At the fourth GOP debate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz promised to eliminate the Department of Commerce — twice. After being asked which government agencies he thought should be cut in order to lower spending, Cruz seemed to stumble, naming the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and then Commerce once more, before moving on to name the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Whether the gaffe was simply an oversight or Cruz had suffered a Rick-Perry-esque blunder was up for debate.
"Five major agencies that I would eliminate," said Cruz, launching into a strangely jumbled laundry list, "the I.R.S., the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and HUD."
Cruz seemed not to notice the mistake, but the Internet certainly did. "[Ted Cruz] just got rid of the Commerce Department — twice!" MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews tweeted jokingly. "Double down!" Economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Dean Baker took it one step further, tweeting, "Ted Cruz wants to eliminate the Department of Commerce twice. If only Rick Perry had thought of that one."
The moment was only an iota less cringeworthy than Perry's mix-up during the 2012 presidential election cycle. At the CNBC Republican debate on Nov. 9, 2011, Perry was asked which three government agencies he would eliminate if elected president, in order to cut government spending. Perry began confidently enough, citing the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education, but his response quickly unraveled as he struggled to name a third.
"The third agency of government I would — I would do away with, Education, the ..." Perry said, trailing off. Even after rival Mitt Romney attempted to intervene, suggesting the EPA as a third option, Perry simply couldn't recover. "I can't — the third one, I can’t, sorry ... Oops."
Despite massive attempts at spin from the Perry camp, the damage was done. Two months after the gaffe, Perry announced that he would be suspending his campaign indefinitely, subsequently endorsing Romney for the presidency.
On Tuesday night, Cruz seemed to avoid such a fate, thanks largely to his social media team, which quickly tweeted a subtle correction. "We eliminate the IRS, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, and HUD," they wrote.