Even though Donald Trump congratulated Senator Ted Cruz in his first place showing following the Iowa caucuses, it wasn’t long before Trump tweeted out some inflammatory accusations against Cruz’s campaign, namely that the Texas Senator “illegally stole” the victory in Iowa. Trump later removed the word “illegally” from his tweet.
“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it,” Trump wrote. “That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!”
In a series of tweets, Trump made a number of charges of fraud. The first concerned the news that the Cruz campaign passed along a CNN report that Ben Carson was taking a break from campaigning, and played it up like he was quitting the race in order to encourage people to vote for Cruz. Cruz later apologized for that message and called it a mistake.
Trump also charged that Cruz put out controversial “get out the vote” mailers that looked like official notices of people’s failure to vote.
“During primetime of the Iowa Caucus, Cruz put out a release that @RealBenCarson was quitting the race, and to caucus (or vote), for Cruz,” Trump tweeted. “Many people voted for Cruz over Carson because of this Cruz fraud. Also, Cruz sent out a VOTER VIOLATION certificate to thousands of voters.”
He went on, “The Voter Violation certificate gave poor marks to the unsuspecting voter (grade of F) and told them to clear it up by voting for Cruz. Fraud.”
In reality, it was CNN who first broke the news:
CNN only knew because the Ben Carson campaign notified them. He let them know some sixteen minutes before the Iowa caucuses even started that he would be going to Florida afterwards regardless of how he placed. Radio host and conservative commentator Erick Erickson of The Resurgent notes that Ted Cruz was only going by what was reported by CNN:
The Cruz campaign then sent out an email after the CNN report and as the caucuses were starting that Carson was packing up and going home and had a big announcement coming the next week. The Cruz team urged its supporters to use that news to convince the Carson team to switch to Cruz.
Then, after the Cruz email started circulating, the Carson camp announced Carson was staying in. It was an hour after the caucuses had started that the press started reporting Carson’s clarification.
Yes, the Cruz deputy who sent out the email added the “big announcement” part and that was nowhere to be found in the press. But yes, the Carson camp did send out word that he was going home to Florida and did so before the caucuses started then took almost an hour to turn things around. Were they not amateurs they should have known precisely how that would be received by everyone.
The Cruz campaign rapidly processed the news from CNN, took action to persuade Carson’s voters, and won. The Carson campaign was really slow to respond to the news, created the news themselves, and should be upset with their own team, not Ted Cruz’s team.
Was the Ted Cruz campaign acting a little sneaky? Probably, but this is politics. If Ben Carson didn’t want any rumors being spread around, he probably shouldn’t have announced to the media that he was going to Florida after Iowa, leading people to believe that maybe he was thinking about dropping out.