MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ted Cruz apologized to Dr. Ben Carson on Tuesday after the Texas senator's campaign was accused of trying to sabotage his opponent's chances in the Iowa caucuses.
Cruz’s campaign blasted out a report Monday night that suggested Carson was going home to Florida instead of campaigning after the Iowa caucuses – something Cruz said Tuesday is “fair game” – but admitted that the campaign should have corrected that report when it became clear Carson wasn't dropping out of the race. He was just going home to get "fresh clothes."
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"This was a mistake from our end, and for that I apologize to Dr. Carson," Cruz said in a statement Tuesday, hours after he was declared the winner in Iowa while Carson finished a distant fourth.
Carson's campaign said they appreciated the apology, but suggested it’s too little, too late: They believe they lost many votes to Cruz because their supporters thought the candidate was dropping out, and suggested that had the incident not occurred the caucus might have ended differently.
Cruz’s campaign initially dismissed the allegations, saying merely that it was “interesting” and “newsworthy” that Carson had decided to go home for a day after the Iowa state caucuses, but after extensive proof was uncovered online, by the Carson campaign, and by reporters, Cruz appeared on CNN and addressed them.
“If Ted Cruz doesn’t know about this, then he clearly needs to very quickly get rid of some people in his organization,” Carson said on "Fox and Friends" Tuesday morning. “And if he does know about it, isn’t this the exact kind of thing that the American people are tired of? Why would we want to continue that kind of, you know, shenanigans?”
Carson’s wife, Candy, visited two caucus locations to speak in support of her husband but had to first tell voters he was still in the race. She told MSNBC in an exclusive interview that she was frustrated and upset.
"It wasn’t fair to us, it wasn’t fair to Iowans, and it also wasn’t fair to the other candidates. Who knows how many of those votes might have gone to them?” Mrs. Carson said. “It’s just totally tainted.”
She – and the campaign – have argued the tactics are a sign of "dirty business" in Iowa.
“That’s politics,” Mrs. Carson said, and then argued that “that’s not the American way, that’s not what our founding fathers envisioned."
Iowans from across the state confirmed the story to MSNBC last night, and many of them felt the entire situation was inappropriate.
“I was shocked – I’m a Huckabee supporter and I’m shocked. Why is a Cruz supporter standing up there talking about Dr. Ben Carson?" home school activist Barb Heki asked MSNBC on Monday night. "It’s none of their business."