Gaffe Track: Ted Cruz's Punishment for Hillary Clinton: Spanking

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: During a campaign stop in Iowa, Cruz was asked about Hillary Clinton’s comments about Benghazi. “In my house, if my daughter Catherine, the five-year-old, says something she knows to be false, she gets a spanking,” Cruz said. “Well, in America, the voters have a way of administering a spanking.” Bruh, did you really just talk about spanking Hillary Clinton?

The defense: Cruz wasn’t advocating, like, actually spanking Clinton. See, it’s an analogy.

Why it matters (or doesn’t): This isn’t exactly a campaign-ending gaffe for Cruz, but it’s weird, especially for a guy who’s usually very polished and on-message. It’s a weird image to grasp for, and Cruz is getting some flak for talking about spanking—though many American parents also believe strongly in the value of some modest corporal punishment.

The moral: Spare the Rodham, spoil the child.