Washington (CNN) — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas made light at a major gathering of conservatives on Saturday of his sometimes rocky 2012 run for the White House.
"I've learned a little bit about humility particularly on national television," he quipped to laughter at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference, which is one of the largest gatherings of social conservatives.
A few lines later in his faith-themed speech, Perry noted a critique of "St. Peter, whose mouth sometimes ran faster than his brain. Let me tell you, I can relate to Peter."
In a high-profile gaffe, Perry could not remember at a GOP primary debate the third of three federal agencies he planned to eliminate if elected. He later described it as a brain freeze and said in a CNN interview, "I bet there are a lot of Americans out there that would like to forget some agencies of government, too."
He made one on Saturday morning at this lower-profile event, confusing the country where four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, were killed last September 11.
"Our administration won't make one phone call to save our men and women in embassies in Lebanon," he said, apparently referring to the attack in Benghazi, Libya, "but they'll monitor phone calls of 121 million Americans with one single judicial order. That bothers me."
But Perry, who has said he will announce this summer whether he will run for the governor again next year, with a decision on making a 2016 White House bid coming a bit later this year, told the half-full ballroom at a Washington hotel that nobody in politics is without flaws.
"The fact is God hadn't called the perfect to go into the arena of public service. He's called people just like you and just like me, nothing less than the example of our savior," he said.
He was the first speaker at the final day of the conference and spoke to a half-empty ball room. Nearly the full roster of prospective 2016 presidential candidates accepted invitations to speak at the conference.
Perry criticized the federal government's collection of internet and phone records, spoke out against the national debt and made a veiled criticism of the Obama administration's gun control efforts.
"I fear the trampling of the Second Amendment and the discarding of the Tenth Amendment. Every word in the Bill of Rights guarantees our freedom and not a single vowel of that should be ignored," he said.
To the point of freedom, Perry noted that he had this week signed into law religious freedom legislation which some in Texas called the "Merry Christmas bill."
"I have no idea why this is even required in America today," he said. "Expressions of faith I happen to think are very positive in the American society that we live in today."
Perry was followed on stage by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Former governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will close the conference Saturday afternoon.
-- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
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