Gaffe Track: Count to Five With Ted Cruz

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The candidate: Ted Cruz

The gaffe: Asked how he’d account for lost federal revenue under tax cuts he’s proposed, the senator replied: “Five major agencies that I would eliminate: The IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce and HUD.” (Cruz was missing the Department of Education.) As another Texan running for president once said, “Oops.”

The defense: Well, it’s harder to count to five than to Rick Perry’s three, give Cruz that.

Why it matters (or doesn’t): By the time Perry forgot the third agency he wanted to eliminate, he had already acquired a reputation as a flake. Cruz, a polished debater, doesn’t risk that. Still … ouch.

The lesson: Never underestimate the importance of education.