Anyone who has ever worked for a candidate (or any public figure, really) has had that Oh, God moment. It’s the moment that you prepare for, pray will never come, but somehow always manages to sneak up kick the crap out of your best-laid media plans.

Democrat almost-candidate for president Lincoln Chafee served his comms shop an Oh, God moment this morning on CNN’s New Day when he may or may not have let it slip that his exploratory committee is, at least in his mind, a formality:

After rattling off a list of sins that Hillary Clinton committed as secretary of state, John Berman asked Chafee if he was going hard against her record on purpose. “Yes, that’s why I’m running,” he seemingly confirmed. “Because I feel strong about where we’re going as a country.”

You can watch the spot here.

This may not seem like a huge, earth-shattering problem, and it isn’t in the scheme of things; but a presidential announcement isn’t something you off-handedly mention in an interview. It’s something you want to be able to craft a media narrative around, and “launch.”

Still, his team did their best to salvage things:

Soon after, however, his spokeswoman told CNN that wait, no, he wasn’t actually running yet. “We are still in the exploratory committee phase…We will file the proper papers to be an official candidate, but that has not happened yet.”

Whoops.

In an article for Politico, Ben Schreckinger points out that this is more than just an unforced error—it’s a tell on the part of Democrats who are scrambling to find a challenger for Hillary. Now that Chafee has declared himself, he is for all intents and purposes (and FEC nitpicks) a candidate. Although he admits he’s not competitive on a financial level, he appears to be serious about knocking Clinton down a few pegs:

He has also said he does not believe he can raise the billion-plus dollars a winning presidential campaign is expected to take in. “Right now that’s not the top priority,” he said on Thursday about fundraising. “I want to make sure people know I’m serious about my record, promoting the character I’ve displayed.”

He is, however, putting some pressure on Clinton, who some in the party believe could use some roughing up in preparation for the later stages of her White House run. Other Democrats considering a run have leveled implicit critiques of Clinton in recent months, but so far only Chafee has been willing to attack her directly.

Chafee, to his credit, has done his homework, and is currently launching criticisms at Clinton dating all the way back to her vote on the Iraq war.

Is Chafee “in,” then? I’ll accept “kind of” as an answer—at least for now.