TED CRUZ BACKERS POINT THE FINGER OF BLAME AT ESTABLISHMENT “REPUBLICAN … ” BUT DO THEIR ALLEGATIONS HOLD UP?
It looks like the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wasn’t the only organization up to no good in early-voting Iowa this week. Speculation is now swirling that third-place finisher U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was also involved in spreading false “reports” that fourth-place finisher Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.
These reports are believed to have artificially suppressed Carson’s support and boosted the performance of his rivals – notably the evangelical voters being courted by Cruz and Rubio.
“Conservative” radio host Rush Limbaugh even advanced the theory of Rubio’s involvement, saying Cruz was being unfairly attacked over the Carson flap because he was faring better than Rubio in the polls.
“Cruz is the frontrunner!” Limbaugh said. “They don’t think they can go after him on the issues.”
We’re not discounting Rubio’s involvement in pushing the false “Carson is quitting” narrative. It seems eminently plausible to us – and there’s some evidence to suggest his supporters were involved. But as much as we can’t stand this Obamatrade-loving establishment politician, there’s very little to suggest Rubio’s operatives were deeply involved in spreading of this rumor – whereas the evidence against Cruz’s campaign is incontrovertible. In fact Cruz has already apologized to Carson for his campaign’s role in the dust-up – although he did attempt to (disingenuously, in our book) pin the blame for the whole thing exclusively on the media – namely CNN.
CNN obviously isn’t innocent here. Just as the Iowa caucuses were getting underway, the network sent out a tweet that seemed to imply Carson might be exiting the race …
— CNN (@CNN) February 2, 2016
Because candidates never “quit” anymore – they “suspend their campaigns” – it’s understandable how many would (and did) view this as a sign Carson was in fact bugging out.
But Cruz backers couldn’t leave well enough alone …
To those reports, Cruz’s team added – in an official email, no less – what appears to be a completely fabricated claim that Carson was planning on “making a big announcement next week.” The email further instructed recipients to “inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted Cruz.”
One Cruz precinct captain did just that … only to be rebuked by Carson’s wife, Candy Carson.
Cruz’s national co-chairman U.S. Rep. Steve King took the story a step further – tweeting that “Carson looks like he is out” and that “Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope.”
And while there is some evidence of Rubio backers pushing the narrative …
… those instances appear to be isolated, not part of a strategic push originating at the highest levels of the campaign.
Look, we like Cruz. Always have. Had it not been our intention to drive a stake completely through the heart of the utterly worthless “Republican” party, we probably would have endorsed his candidacy instead of backing the populist crusade of Donald Trump.
Oh, and we’ve long-believed Carson – whose campaign has been in meltdown mode in recent weeks – should drop out of the race.
But Carson’s lack of long-term viability is precisely what made this rumor so plausible …
Bottom line? Cruz can explain away his campaign’s behavior … and pin the blame for it on the press and on rival candidates … but at the end of the day such deflection doesn’t sit well with us. This is a guy who has put his Christian faith front-and-center as part of an effort to court evangelical voters. In other words, he ought to be holding himself to a much higher standard of conduct.
UPDATE: To say Cruz supporters here in early-voting South Carolina are unhappy with criticism of their candidate on this subject, yeah … that would be an understatement.