Republican Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has apologized following reports that his team spread a rumor immediately prior to the Iowa caucus Feb. 1 that rival candidate Ben Carson was dropping out of the presidential contest.
Cruz’s campaign team sent two email messages to supporters claiming Carson would not participate in New Hampshire and South Carolina but failed to circulate a statement from Carson denying the report, according to Daily Mail.
The rumor allegedly began when a CNN journalist tweeted that Carson would fly home to Florida after the Iowa vote to rest.
“Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted Cruz,” the first email from the Cruz team read, according to Daily Mail.
“CNN is reporting that Ben Carson will stop campaigning after Iowa,” the second added. “Make sure to tell all of your peers at the caucus supporting Carson that they should coalesce around the true conservative who will be in the race for the long haul: TED CRUZ!”
Carson criticized the tactic in a statement, noting that Cruz supporters were “tweeting, texting and telling precinct captains to announce that I had suspended my campaign – in some cases asking caucus goers to change their votes.”
Carson sent an email to supporters Feb. 2 in which he expressed his anger about the previous day’s events.
“Last night, shameless tactics and dirty political plays defined the Iowa caucuses,” Carson wrote. “There is no place for this kind of unethical behavior in our American political culture, and it only intensifies my desire to work extremely hard to break down the ugliness in this system.”
When questioned during a Feb. 2 radio interview, Cruz acknowledged the failure of his team to communicate the Carson statement.
Carson’s spokeswoman, Deana Bass, told Daily Mail that the Republican candidate accepted the apology.
Cruz defeated second-placed Donald Trump in Iowa by 6,239 votes. This means that if the rumor persuaded four Carson voters in each precinct to switch to Cruz, it was the difference between victory and defeat for the Texas senator.
Final results gave Cruz 28 percent of the caucus vote, with Trump following with 24 percent, NPR reported. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was just a percentage point behind Trump with 23 percent.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, after obtaining just 2 percent of the vote at the Iowa caucus, announced the suspension of his campaign.