Ted Cruz blamed the media this morning for the controversy over whether his campaign falsely hinted to Iowa caucus-goers before voting commenced that his rival Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.
Cruz sort of apologized to Carson yesterday, saying that his political team had simply passed along a CNN report about Carson’s status to supporters in Iowa and that it was a “mistake” that the campaign had not sent a follow-up email clarifying that Carson was actually staying in the race.
In reality, the CNN report in question merely said that Carson was going home to Florida before heading on to New Hampshire and South Carolina for those state’s primaries, not that he was dropping out of the race. The Cruz campaign, meanwhile, told supporters to inform any Carson backers at their caucuses that Carson was “taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week.” Rep. Steve King, one of Cruz’s most prominent Iowa endorsers, tweeted that Carson was likely dropping out and that his supporters should switch to Cruz.
Cruz pushed back against criticism in an interview today with talk radio host Mike Gallagher, insisting that “from the beginning, we’ve resolved to run a high-road campaign with integrity.”
The Texas senator repeated his story about the CNN report and said of Carson, “I’m sorry if our passing on that CNN news story caused him and his campaign discomfort.”
When Gallagher asked Cruz if he was angry about his campaign officials’ actions, the Texas senator replied, “Well, look, I was disappointed that an impression had been left that was incomplete. It was based on public news reports, and so some of the media folks who want to use it to impugn integrity are deliberately using it in a misleading way.”
Cruz dropped briefly off the line, but when he returned, Gallagher asked him if he would discipline any staffers for their actions.
“Well, I don’t make it a practice to discipline people for passing on public news reports,” he said. “And the news turned out to be accurate, he did indeed return to Florida, and that was news that the voters were interested in.”