Ted Cruz’s campaign distributed an email on the morning of the Iowa Caucuses claiming Dr. Ben Carson was quitting the election. By the time of Saturday’s GOP debate, the issue was still so controversial that Cruz personally walked over to Carson and asked him an important question.
Those who oppose Cruz have been using the erroneous email about Carson’s status in the race to attack the Texas senator,claiming the last-minute “dirty trick” ended up “stealing” the election for Cruz — though there is little evidence the email changed very many votes. But Carson has used the incident to claim he was treated unfairly by the Cruz campaign.
So, the issue also came up at the Saturday’s GOP debate in New Hampshire. Cruz explained the timeline of the email and officially apologized for his staffers who got the information wrong. Cruz did note, though, his staffers got the information from CNN.
Still, Cruz took responsibility for the incident. “Ben is a good and honorable man, and Ben and Candy have become friends. He has an amazing life story that has inspired millions, including me,” Cruz said at the debate. “When this transpired, I apologized to him then, and I do so now. Ben, I’m sorry.”
But after the debate segment and during the commercial break immediately following, Cruz walked over to Carson and again offered his personal apology. And according to Carson, Cruz also asked for a meeting between the two.
“He said he’s sorry that this happened and he wants to sit down and talk,” Carson told the Washington Post. “He wants to discuss the whole thing and clear the air.”
Carson also said he’s willing to take a meeting and listen to what Cruz has to say.
The timeline Cruz pointed to does seem to ring true. Early on the day of the Iowa caucus, CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash reported Carson was leaving the campaign trail and suggested it was the beginning of the end for the Carson campaign.
The Cruz campaign played off the CNN report, clearly thinking CNN was reporting Carson was quitting his campaign.
Additionally, Cruz himself was not part of the decision to play up the CNN report because he was giving speeches in Iowa at the time. It was his staff, not him. Still, his staff was responding to CNN, not making things up out of whole cloth.
In fact, even Carson’s camp pointed to the CNN report as the problem. The Carson campaign began sending out a fundraising letter blaming CNN for the mistaken story that he had quit the race.