Dr. Ben Carson and his campaign accused Sen. Ted Cruz's team of sabotaging Carson in the Iowa caucuses Monday night by encouraging Cruz supporters to tell voters at their caucus sites – incorrectly -- that Carson was dropping out of the race. "It was happening all over," Iowa State Director Ryan Rhodes told MSNBC. "One of the precincts Candy [Carson, the candidate's wife] walked into, she had to correct the record. She actually walked in, in Ankeny, and gave a speech about no, he's still in the race and that's a lie."
Ben Carson, briefly the frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses, did not close well. The retired neurosurgeon, in what appears to be his strongest state, finished fourth with just 9%. That's slightly better than his polling average going into last night, but it's little solace for a candidate moving further away from the top tier.
As MSNBC's Jane C. Timm reports, Carson and his team believe they have an excuse.
So, what's this all about? A CNN reporter said last night, shortly before the caucuses began, that after Iowa, Carson was headed to Florida "for some R&R," instead of going to New Hampshire and South Carolina. Many in both parties saw this as evidence of Carson winding down his struggling campaign.
Team Cruz, seeing an opportunity, quickly texted supporters in Iowa: "CNN is reporting that Ben Carson will stop campaigning after Iowa. Make sure to tell all of your peers at the caucus...."
Whether or not this was deliberately deceptive is a matter of interpretation.
As for Carson's next move, his campaign now says the candidate is only headed to Florida briefly to pick up "fresh clothes." He'll be in D.C. tomorrow and Thursday -- he apparently intends to go to the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that sparked his presidential ambitions a few years ago -- before heading to New Hampshire on Friday.