U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) at the Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines, IA.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) at the Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines, IA.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)

Now that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the frontrunner in Iowa it’s expected that he will be the target of negative ads, attacks, and opposition research.  In fact Donald Trump has already taken shots at him on Twitter after the New York Times reported that Cruz criticized Trump at a fundraiser. U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has gone after Cruz and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on their positions regarding Syrian refugees before the Paris attacks.

This will be just the tip of the iceberg. I suspect that Cruz will be the target of opportunity during tonight’s GOP Debate on CNN.

Also in Politico we see the long knives coming out against Cruz.  In yesterday’s Playbook Mike Allen reports:

An informed source tells Playbook there’s more audio of “Cruz unplugged” leaking out of New York City fundraising events. Last week, the N.Y. Times posted audio, provided by an attendee, of Cruz questioning Trump’s “judgment” at a Madison Avenue fundraiser. It turns out that several of Cruz’s private fundraising events have been recorded, according to this source.

Our little bird says that when addressing Manhattan donors, Cruz strikes a more moderate and inclusive tone on social issues than he does when speaking to Iowa audiences. Some donors say that New York Cruz sounds different than Iowa Cruz. Look for the next audio track on a conservative news site early this week. The leaks are designed to undermine Cruz’s authenticity.

So much for a Christmas truce. I am uncomfortable about reporting such as this for a couple of reasons. First, it is anonymous source that plants seeds of doubt. Second, while this article plants seeds of doubt it also is impossible for Cruz to refute since the audio has not been released yet.  I can totally see no audio actually being released leaving a rumor that spreads seed of doubt that is impossible to defend.

Dirty politics 101 – It is not like that hasn’t happened before.

If there is such audio then voters will have to listen and make up their own mind, but in the meantime we are left wondering what a “moderate and inclusive tone” sounds like. The imagination will likely come up with scenarios far worse than the truth.

If I were advising the Cruz campaign I would encourage them to consider what this may be referring to and get ahead of it.  If they know for a fact he never said anything like what Allen’s “little bird” is referring to then say that. It was a mistake to deny criticizing Trump (and it was mild in terms of what we see coming out of other campaigns). The audio was released and we can see the campaign was not telling the truth.

The long knives are out and how Cruz responds will determine whether or not he wins Iowa or whether he will free fall like Carson before February 1.

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