Gaffe Track: Cruz's Pointless Obamacare Tall Tale

Andrew Harnik / AP
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: Speaking in New Hampshire, the senator told a personal tale of woe: “You know who one of those millions of Americans who's lost their health care because of Obamacare? That would be me. I don't have health care right now.” He used to be covered by his wife’s plan at Goldman Sachs, but she's on leave. He added, “By the way, when you let your health-insurance policy lapse, your wife gets really ticked at you. It’s not a good—I’ve had, shall we say, some intense conversations with Heidi on that.” It turns out he should have had some intense conversations with his insurance broker: He never lost coverage at all.

The defense: Cruz’s spokeswoman says the broker gave Cruz bad information. Cruz was automatically placed in a new plan when his old one expired on December 31, but he now says he wants to enroll in a different, wider plan—which is going to cost him more. (Jokes about harping wives are always hilarious, though!)

Why it matters (or doesn’t): Every Cruz misstep is surprising, because he’s a very disciplined candidate. This is a weird case because it’s such an unforced error—Cruz’s tearjerker almost immediately seemed fishy, and indeed turned out to be wrong. But being confused about your insurance is far more relatable than being confused about when to disclose loans from Goldman Sachs.

The lesson: Everyone has wished they could forget their dealings with their HMO, but few of us have actually succeeded.