Carson is accusing the Cruz campaign of sending emails to supporters, telling them to spread lies about Carson that he was dropping out. The Cruz campaign denies it:
TIME – Ben Carson was incensed as the results of Monday night’s Iowa caucuses rolled in, accusing the winner of spreading falsehoods about him at caucus sites.
Carson’s team claimed that Cruz’s campaign deliberately sent emails to supporters to spread false rumors at caucus sites that Carson had dropped out, so his supporters would caucus for other candidates.
“That is really quite a dirty trick,” Carson said speaking to reporters at the end of the evening. “That’s the very kind of thing that irritated me enough to get into this quagmire.”
Ryan Rhodes, Carson’s Iowa state director, showed reporters a text on his phone from Barbara Heki, a Mike Huckabee supporter. “The Cruz speakers at our caucus announced Carson was suspending his campaign for a while after caucus. They did this before the vote. Same thing happened at another caucus. Sounds like slimy Cruzing to me,” the text read.
Jason Osborne, Carson’s deputy senior strategist, read aloud another missive, this one an email from their precinct chair in Muscatine: “The guy speaking for Ted Cruz right before the vote, he was supposed to be done, he announced that there was a story on CNN that Ben Carson was taking a break after Iowa, and then stated, ‘So you might want to rethink wasting your vote on him.’”
Cruz’s team flatly denies the allegations. “That’s absurd,” spokesperson Catherine Frazier said simply.
Carson’s team has yet to produce any emails, I gather, to prove their allegations. But I suppose it is possible, given that there were reports earlier today that suggested Carson might be dropping out:
Speculation abounded Monday night that GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson might drop out of the race, after news broke that Carson was not sticking around in Iowa to wait out caucus results, nor heading directly to New Hampshire or South Carolina for the next primaries on the calendar.
The Carson campaign had to dispel the rumors later today:
BREAKING ON CARSON: Campaign tells me he's NOT changing campaign sched… just leaving Iowa early b/c of storm… to get more clothes.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) February 2, 2016
Hmm, it sounds like Carson got hosed by a bad report. Oops. https://t.co/iJJnFmjJuL
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) February 2, 2016
So perhaps some of the Cruz caucusers caught wind of the bad report and began spreading it at caucuses tonight? I don’t know. It’s possible.
Either way if it’s true, it sucks for Carson. But it may be the result of an unfortunate rumor more than anything. Unless they can get their hands on some hard evidence to prove that the Cruz campaign orchestrated the spreading of false rumors, I think this story will likely die soon.
UPDATE: Looks like a guy named Spence Rogers sent the message to precinct captains:
— jennifer (@jenilynn1001) February 2, 2016
— Simon Conway (@SimonRadio1776) February 2, 2016
Some are suggesting that CNN broke the story that Carson was dropping out. They didn’t say that specifically, but from what I saw on Twitter, some certainly perceived it that way. Here’s the CNN report:
This broke just before the caucuses began tonight. No doubt some took at his leaving the campaign. Here are a few tweets from newsers (h/t: Twitchy):
It sounds like Carson’s campaign is near quitting time. Cruz must be dying that he waited until now.
— Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire) February 2, 2016
Carson won't go to NH/SC, but instead will head home to Florida for some R&R. He'll be in DC Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast.
— Chris Moody (@moody) February 2, 2016
Carson not going to NH says @CNN? Cruz no doubt wishing he'd already packed it in, putting his IA votes in play.
— Michael Smerconish (@smerconish) February 2, 2016
Sounds like a bad story that ran amuck and people started making assumptions that the Carson campaign had to squash later. If I heard that Carson was quitting, I’d want his votes too. That said, it wasn’t reported as ‘dropping out’ from CNN and people should be more careful in the desperation to win, not to believe everything they hear.
That said, Carson hasn’t been polling that well in Iowa for a while. I’m not sure this hurt him all that much.