Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has emerged the Republican winner of the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus. Now, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has accused the Cruz campaign of deliberately poaching his voters in the state.
“For months, my campaign has survived the lies and dirty tricks from opponents who profess to detest the games of the political class, but in reality are masters at it,” Carson said after placing fourth in Iowa, according to Fox News.
“Even tonight, my opponents resorted to political tricks … telling precinct captains to announce that I had suspended my campaign -- in some cases asking caucusgoers to change their votes.”
Carson called the tactic “quite a dirty trick … that’s the very kind of thing that irritated me enough to get into this quagmire.”
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The Cruz campaign had emailed Iowa precinct captains false confirmation that Carson was going to drop out of the race, CNN reports.
The email stated: "Breaking news. The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign after Iowa and making a big announcement next week. Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted Cruz."
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who has supported Cruz, tweeted on Feb. 1 that “Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope.”
The retired neurosurgeon will be returning to his home state of Florida instead of going directly to New Hampshire, but his campaign said he will resume campaigning on Feb. 3.
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The Cruz campaign has denied any wrongdoing.
“Carson said he was taking time off to go home,” said Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “Our email simply stated the facts.”
Carson has challenged the Texas senator to show accountability for his campaign’s alleged “dirty trick.”
“If Ted Cruz doesn’t know about this, then he clearly needs to very quickly get rid of some people in his organization,” Carson told Fox News morning show, “Fox and Friends” on Jan. 2.
“If he did know about it, he needs to come out and admit what he did and try and offer a solution,” Carson concluded.
CNN reports Cruz issued an apology on Feb. 2, calling it a "mistake."