Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Perry recaps Obama’s 57 states’ goof

By Meghan Ashford-Grooms November 30, 2011
By W. Gardner Selby November 30, 2011

We all make mistakes.That was Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s message a day after suggesting during a New Hampshire campaign stop that the U.S. voting age is 21.

On the Nov. 30, 2011, edition of "Fox & Friends," Perry indicated that his much-talked-about goof was a simple slip of the tongue — something that the current president has also done. "From time to time, we all will get something wrong," Perry said. "The president of the United States said there was 57 states one day." See his response about five minutes into the video posted here.

Of course, the voting age is 18. And the United States has 50 states.

Perry’s right, though, that Barack Obama flubbed in this fashion.

It happened in May 2008 as then-Sen. Obama was closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination.

As reported by Reuters, Obama was howdying a crowd in Beaverton, Ore., on May 9, 2008, when he said: "It is wonderful to be back in Oregon. Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states. I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it."

Thanks to, we corralled a YouTube video of Obama’s gaffe.

Sounding tired, Obama paused between the words "fifty" and "seven. The video shows that Obama’s "57 states" reference touched off some laughter.

Both and our friends at later suggested that Obama meant to say 47.

At a later stop that day, according to a Los Angeles Times blog post, Obama was talking with reporters and expressed concern he'd also mis-stated the number of potential cyclone victims in Burma. Obama said he hoped he’d said 100,000 people the first time instead of 100 million. "I understand I said there were 57 states today," Obama said. "It's a sign that my numeracy is getting a little, uh." At that point, the Times blog said, an aide cut Obama off and ushered journalists out.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Meghan Ashford-Grooms

Perry recaps Obama’s 57 states’ goof