Shortly after Ted Cruz’s historic victory in Iowa, some allegations of dirty tricks on the part of the Cruz campaign have surfaced. The claim is that the Cruz camp lied to Iowa Caucus supporters of Carson, saying that Ben was dropping out, in order to get them to switch their votes to Cruz. * Concerned that a candidate who stakes his name on trust would put that on the line haphazardly, I looked into the matter, and what I found was that the allegations were severely wanting. Please, read on as I walk you through the evidence while I give what I believe to be a reasonable explanation, and then you can draw your own conclusions.
According to The Washington Post, Dr. Carson announced that he was skipping the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to go home to Florida. ** Carson said this at some point on caucus night, and this information reached the Cruz Camp approximately between 6 and 8 PM, based on the time stamp of Cruz campaigner Steve King’s tweet regarding the matter. If you look at Rep. King’s tweets, it’s clear that he believed that Dr. Carson’s statement signified that Ben was getting out and he wanted to take advantage of the news, presumably before Rubio or Trump did.
This quote from the WP article says it all, “Political reporters and strategists have no idea what to make of Carson’s decision. The most obvious theory is that he is preparing to drop out, but his campaign insists that is not the case.” ** It is my belief that the Cruz camp most likely would’ve had people on hand to witness Ben make his statement and forward it on, and they wouldn’t have paused for assurances from Carson’s people to confirm his intentions. Why should they? The only reasonable conclusion is that the Cruz folks genuinely believed that Ben was calling it quits and wanted to use that information. If the Cruz camp jumped the gun because they saw something that looked and quacked like a duck but in actuality wasn’t, that doesn’t make them liars or sneaky, but just mistaken and maybe a bit too eager. Such things can happen on a political campaign, even unmaliciously, in the fog of war.
I suspect that my conclusion will be poor consolation to the supporters of other candidates who didn’t do as well as Cruz in the Iowa Caucus, those nursing their wounds with the conviction that their guy would’ve won if Ted hadn’t cheated, but that is likely not what happened when all the facts are considered. As far as is known, Ted Cruz won fair and square. The bottom line is that if Carson was not getting out, and if (and that’s a very big “if”) this information caused Carson to lose even a single percentage point (his RCP average was only 7.7%; *** Carson ended up with 9.3% *), then Carson has only himself to blame for not thinking through how such an announcement might be interpreted. This turn of events is, I’m sure, regrettable for both candidates, but the controversy is more likely to highlight Carson’s inexperience with politics than it is to prove any dirty deeds on the part of the Cruz campaign.
– Ryan Thorson