Ben Carson accuses Ted Cruz of spreading false rumors during the Iowa caucuses claiming the retired neurosurgeon was suspending his bid for president, in a coordinated effort to seal Cruz’s victory Monday night, according to The Huffington Post.
A Carson spokesman declared, “There has never been a more tainted victory in the Iowa caucuses.” Early reports that the etired neurosurgeon — who was directly competing with Cruz for social conservative and evangelical supporters — was leaving the campaign trail started to surface as caucusing began Monday evening.
Upon hearing reports that their candidate was leaving the trail to return to his home in Florida, Team Carson responded swiftly, saying the retired neurosurgeon was only going home for clean clothes but was then headed to New Hampshire for the Feb. 9 primary. But Carson said that Cruz supporters and representatives took that narrative a step further, and began telling caucus-goers at “many” precincts that he was dropping out.
As Ben Carson accused Ted Cruz and his supporter of spreading the false rumors, Cruz apologized on Tuesday. He said their political team had forwarded an initial news report that said Carson was taking a break from the campaign trail, but did not forward an update to that same story.
“Unfortunately, they did not then forward the subsequent story, that was Ben’s campaign clarifying that he was continuing the campaign and was not canceling the campaign,” Cruz said. “And so I apologize to Ben for that. They should have forwarded that subsequent story. That was a mistake on our part.”
Carson’s campaign issued a statement Tuesday evening saying he “accepted” Cruz’s apology.
On Tuesday morning, Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler also said that the campaign simply repeated what Carson had said: that after Iowa, he was returning to Florida for a couple of days, then going to Washington for the National Prayer Breakfast.
“That told us he was not going to New Hampshire,” Tyler said. “That was not a dirty trick.”
Carson said that his supporters were told Monday that “voting for me was wasting their vote, and that they should reconsider.”
Ben Carson ended up finishing a distant fourth in Iowa, with 9 percent, while Ted Cruz claimed a big victory over Donald Trump. Cruz, a Texas senator, had 28 percent, and Trump had 24 percent. How much the drop-out rumors may have affected that count is unclear. But the interactive caucus process does offer an opportunity for supporters of one candidate to be persuaded to change sides before casting their ballot.
The usually mild-mannered Ben Carson accused the other side of using the process to execute “dirty tricks.”
“It’s the exact thing the American people are tired of,” he said. “Why would we want to continue with this kind of shenanigans?” He said his suspicions were also confirmed by tweets, “other correspondence,” and a first-hand experience by his wife at a precinct.
Carson said his wife Candy arrived at the precinct to learn that a Cruz supporter was “disseminating” the misinformation and was asked to set straight the record. “She did, and we won that precinct,” he said.
As Ben Carson and Ted Cruz patch things up, there’s another problem for Donald Trump after losing the Iowa caucuses. Trump now has to win New Hampshire to remain a serious candidate.