Following a strong turnout at the Iowa Caucus on Monday, Dr. Ben Carson the next morning accused the Cruz campaign of dirty tactics to get a first place finish, claiming his supporters had convinced caucus-goers he was out of the race. The Cruz campaign seized on the news late Monday that Carson would not travel directly from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina, and incorrectly suggested to precinct captains it was a sign that he would be dropping out of the race while the caucus was still in progress. Cruz Iowa staffer Spence Rogers sent precinct captains an email during the caucus hinting that Carson planned to leave the race, despite the fact that Carson’s campaign said he would continue.
Carson’s campaign was furious when they first learned of the tactic, and Carson decried it as a “dirty trick” during remarks Monday night at a party with supporters in West Des Moines. Meanwhile, Cruz surrogate Iowa Rep. Steve King told followers on Twitter that “Carson looks like he is out.” Carson told Fox News that his wife had to correct the misinformation at one of several caucus events.
She spoke at one of the caucus sites and before she got there one of the Cruz people had again disseminated that information to the crowd. And one of the organizers told her ‘I’m so glad you’re here, so you could set the record straight.’ And she did and we actually won in that precinct.”
The Cruz campaign defended the Rogers email to the precinct captains. Carson campaign officials confirmed he was not suspending his campaign but he will go home to Florida following the Iowa caucuses instead of flying directly to early-voting states New Hampshire and South Carolina, regardless of what happens in the first-in-the-nation voting state, so he can “get a fresh set of clothes.” Carson made the claim in an email to supporters after Sen. Ted Cruz was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses. Carson came in fourth with 9.3 percent of the vote, behind Cruz, Donald Trump, and Sen. Marco Rubio.
For months, my campaign has survived the lies and dirty tricks from opponents who profess to to detest the games of the political class, but in reality are masters at it,” Carson said in the email. “Even tonight, my opponents resorted to political tricks by tweeting, texting and telling precinct captains to announce that I had suspended my campaign – in some cases asking caucus goers to change their votes.”
Carson will remain in Florida until he travels to the Washington, D.C., area for meetings on Wednesday. He’ll attend the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, and then he’ll head to North Carolina for a fundraiser and New Hampshire for Saturday’s Republican debate.