Gaffe Track: Christie's Corporal Punishment for Clinton

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

The candidate: Chris Christie

The gaffe:

The defense: What, you’re surprised by Chris Christie getting overly aggressive?

Why it matters (or doesn’t): What’s amazing about Christie’s comment is that he’s not even the first to commit such a, shall we say, derri-error in the last month: Ted Cruz also proposed “spanking” the Democratic frontrunner. Both candidates have risked making asses of themselves to show how harsh they’ll be with Clinton, but perhaps they should butt out. As Rick Lazio could tell them, stepping to her physically isn’t a good political strategy. In Christie’s case, it may be a desperation play: With his numbers flagging, he appears to be on the tail end of his campaign.

The lesson: Christie can promise all he wants about hypotheticals, but it’s wiser to stick to the facts than to make a posteriori claims.