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

I debated whether or not I would write about the controversy surrounding the email Ted Cruz’s campaign sent out to grassroots activists prior to the Iowa Caucuses that highlighted a CNN story that indicated Carson was taking a break this week. This lead to several Cruz precinct captains saying during their remarks to their caucus that Carson was dropping out and his supporters should vote for Cruz.

I’ve not been able to ascertain how many precincts this actually happened in. I know it was not mentioned in mine. I wanted to share the time line of the evening that will help us have a better handle on what happened.

6:29p (Correction: This is 7:29p, the screen capture is in Mountain Time)  – Conrad Close, who is a conservative journalist who supports Marco Rubio, tweeted this (the Tweet has been deleted, but here is a screen capture):

Conrad-Close-Tweet-1

Politicstick.com who reported this story also took a screen capture of his bio which indicates his support for Rubio.

Conrad-Close-Twitter-Profile

Does this let the Cruz campaign off the hook? No, but those who are blasting Cruz need to, at the very least, include Rubio in their criticism.  The fact that Close later deleted the tweet indicates that there is an attempt to cover this up.

6:43p – CNN’s Chris Moody tweets:

6:43p – Moody also tweets:

6:44pCNN breaks the story, no mention of Carson saying he plans to stay in the race.

At the same time Ken Shepherd, managing editor of NewsBusters tweets:

Mitch Pugh of the Charleston Post & Courier in South Carolina tweeted:

6:46p – Michael Smerconish of SiriusXM’s POTUS channel tweeted:

6:50p – CNN The Lead tweets out the story.

6:52p – CNN Politics tweets out the story.

6:56p – The first Cruz email goes out to grassroots activists in Iowa:

Press Reporting Carson to Take Break After Iowa

Dear ____,

Breaking News. The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week.

Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted Cruz.

Note this email did NOT say Carson was dropping out of the race, but Spence Rogers who sent out the tweet implied it when he said Carson would be “making a big announcement next week.”

7:00p – The Cruz campaign sends a text message and the Iowa Caucuses begin:

https://twitter.com/amanbatheja/status/694324806385168384/photo/1

7:13p – A 2nd Cruz email goes out:

CNN Reporting Ben Carson Will Stop Campaigning After Iowa

Dear ____ 

CNN is reporting that Ben Carson will stop campaigning after Iowa. Make sure to tell all of your peers at the caucus supporting Carson that they should coalesce around the true conservative who will be in the race for the long haul: TED CRUZ!

7:19p – Congressman Steve King (R-IA) tweeted:

7:20p – Congressman Steve King (R-IA) tweeted:

7:30p – Chris Moody clarifies his tweet.

8:23p – Carson’s campaign issues a statement.

Contrary to false media reports, Dr. Ben Carson is not suspending his presidential campaign, which is stronger than ever. After spending 18 consecutive days on the campaign trail, Dr. Carson needs to go home and get a fresh set of clothes. He will be departing Des Moines later tonight to avoid the snow storm and will be back on the trail Wednesday. We look forward to tonight’s caucus results and to meaningful debates in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Note… who did Carson campaign blame here? They blamed “false media reports” and they say he’s not suspending his campaign.

After the Carson campaign cried foul after some Cruz representatives said that Carson was dropping out of the race during their remarks at their precinct caucuses (which the Carson campaign admits led people to believe he was suspending his campaign) Cruz issued the following apology the next day.

First off I want to say that I am a huge fan of Dr. Ben Carson.  He is a wonderful and talented individual, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time together on the campaign trail.

Last night when our political team saw the CNN post saying that Dr. Carson was not carrying on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, our campaign updated grassroots leaders just as we would with any breaking news story.  That’s fair game.  What the team then should have done was send around the follow-up statement from the Carson campaign clarifying that he was indeed staying in the race when that came out. 

This was a mistake from our end, and for that I apologize to Dr. Carson.

In my precinct, Pleasant Hill 1, Candi Carson spoke and Tyler Dorin who was the precinct captain made no mention of Carson at all during his speech. I have spoken with a number of people who said this was not mentioned in their precinct caucus. I have spoken with precinct captains who did not see the emails until after the caucus was done. I was told by a friend in Adel the precinct captain in her caucus was told NOT to repeat what he read in the email by a Cruz staffer who was present.

Automatically people have jumped to name calling and somehow assuming Ted Cruz orchestrated this himself. He didn’t. It happened too fast. It was a misguided email communication for sure, but it repeated what many people were thinking based on the CNN report that Carson was taking a break.

This wasn’t malicious, it was miscommunication that frankly based on the lateness of the emails wouldn’t have been very effective anyway even if it was malicious. Cruz did not deny the emails, he didn’t try to cover this up, he took ownership and apologized. Carson’s campaign in a statement said that Carson accepted Cruz’s apology.

Carson had more to say to CNN however:

“As a Christian I will accept the apology but it doesn’t correct the problem,” Carson told CNN. “This is a cultural issue when people in your campaign feel that it’s ok to distort the issues to their political advantage and to tell absolute lies. And the question really is will there be any consequences for that.”

This unfortunately makes Carson’s acceptance of his apology looks disingenuous, and that’s a shame. Cruz said he wouldn’t be firing the staffer who sent the email. I agree with that decision. My sense is that this was a legitimate screw-up. Having been on the receiving end of politically-driven “consequences” I appreciate the loyalty he has to that staffer. I will say I think the emails and Congressman King’s tweets were ill-advised, done hastily without full information. I saw the tweet from Chris Moody before the before my caucus, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant for Carson’s campaign so I didn’t retweet. Carson’s campaign schedule ever since he got into the race has been a mystery to me.

I also wouldn’t have said something at my caucus if I were a precinct captain until I had something more concrete knowing that Carson has had a funky schedule.

It’s time to move on. This did not cost Carson Iowa. There were things in play long before that that led to Monday’s outcome. It was a mistake, it has been explained, on to New Hampshire.

6 comments
  1. Conrad Close based that tweet off of what he was seeing on Twitter. He wasn’t in Iowa and had no special information. So given the fact that there’s no other evidence of this on Twitter, what’s the real answer here? He made a mistake, and then he deleted the tweet.

  2. Thanks for this. It is a shame that this incident has been used to make good people look bad. I hate the idea that people think that the way to win a nomination is to make everyone involved look like horrible human beings. Cruz, Carson, and their key staffers are all good folks who are trying to make our country better than it is. We should remember this, and give the same benefit of the doubt that we would want if we were on the other side.

  3. No matter the who the what or the when Cruz and Rubio camps should have confirmed the message first before sending out anything that makes you look shady. They failed to follow the bare minimum of decorum so should suffer the consequences whatever that would be. I don’t like politicians!

  4. I participated in the Republican Caucus for Ames Precinct 1-5. There was absolutely no mention by anyone that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race, either in support speeches or in any other context. My impression is that this is major piece of non-news and had little or no effect on the voting results on caucus night.

  5. I was the designated advocate for Ted Cruz in precinct Story 4-3, and my wife was the Cruz advocate in Story 4-2. Neither of us made any mention of the Carson report.

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