Following Ted Cruz’s win in the Iowa Caucus and accusations that he stole votes from rival candidate Ben Carson, voicemails have been released which reportedly reveal that individuals, identifying themselves as members of Cruz’s campaign, were telling local precinct captains that Carson was “suspending campaigning” and “taking a leave of absence.”
After an email was sent out from the Cruz campaign asking supporters to inform voters that Carson “is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week,” Cruz pointed to CNN’s reporting and suggested that the media was encouraging conflict between himself and Carson.
Cruz claimed he apologized to Carson for “not passing on their subsequent clarification,” but he also stood by his campaign’s decision to send the email.
“The news story that our team passed on was true and accurate,” Cruz said according to RealClearPolitics. “In fact, Ben did go to Florida instead of New Hampshire or South Carolina.”
“Passing on a true an accurate news story, it is in fact something the voters found relevant,” Cruz continued. “There is a reason why the media is chattering about this. Because the media wants to stir up a fight between Ben Carson and me.”
While CNN Reporter Chris Moody tweeted that Carson “won’t go to NH/SC, but will instead head home to Florida for some R&R,” he immediately followed it up with another tweet that said Carson’s campaign told him that “he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.” Both tweets were posted at 4:43 p.m. CST Monday.
However, after Carson’s campaign had already confirmed that it was staying in the race, members of Cruz’s campaign reportedly called local precinct captains in Iowa and told them to encourage voters that they should “not waste a vote on Ben Carson,” because Carson was planning on “suspending campaigning.”
Audio was released by Breitbart Thursday from two voicemails left on the phone of Nancy Bliesman, a precinct caption for Cruz in Crawford County, Iowa.
The first voicemail, which was reportedly left at 7:07 p.m. CST, was from a woman claiming she was “calling to get to a precinct captain.”
[pull_quote_center]It has just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail, so it is very important that you tell any Ben Carson voters that for tonight, uh, that they not waste a vote on Ben Carson, and vote for Ted Cruz. He is taking a leave of absence from his campaign.[/pull_quote_center]
The second voicemail, left at 7:29 p.m. CST, was from a man who claimed that he was “the Cruz campaign,” and that he was calling with breaking news about Carson “suspending campaigning” following the Iowa Caucus.
[pull_quote_center]Hello, this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be [garbled] suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead. Thank you. Good night.[/pull_quote_center]
Investigative journalist Ben Swann discussed additional accusations against the Cruz campaign during a Reality Check segment Thursday. He questioned why the Cruz campaign failed to pass along the information that Carson was still in the race even after it was widely reported, and he noted that this is only one instance of the Cruz campaign being accused of “dirty tricks” in Iowa:
Accusations that Ted Cruz's campaign used dirty tricks to win Iowa Caucus. Ben Swann explains what happened in Reality Check.
Posted by Ben Swann on Thursday, February 4, 2016