Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ben Carson walked into a closet in South Carolina on Thursday night.
That’s not a joke.
The two Republican candidates for president convened for a mano-a-mano meeting in an actual closet in an attempt to smooth over Carson’s allegations of “dirty tricks” on the night of the Iowa caucuses, according to a report from The Daily Beast,
But the meeting called by Cruz apparently didn’t go well, and ended with Carson concluding the two men would just have to “agree to disagree.”
The men spoke for nearly a half hour, according to an unnamed Republican operative who saw the meeting, which ran over into Carson’s allotted speaking time at the Conservative Review convention. An unnamed source close to Carson’s campaign told The Daily Beast that Carson had agreed to a 5-minute, off-the-record meeting before the convention.
The Carson campaign also blamed Cruz’s camp for leaking confirmation of the meeting to the media, and Carson spokesman Jason Osborne suggested the leak was a calculated attempt to repair Cruz’s image.
“We weren’t going to comment to the press on it, but it seems pretty clear that the other party involved had a different agenda,” Osborne told the Beast. “How else could we perceive that to be?”
Another unnamed GOP operative said the Cruz campaign apparently wanted to hold the meeting on “neutral ground,” so they selected a convention center storage closet.
Journalists were reportedly calling the Carson campaign even while the meeting was still underway. A member of Carson’s Secret Service detail guarding the door told an operative simply: “Yeah they’re in that closet,” according to the report.
Carson has repeatedly blamed his disappointing fourth place finish in Iowa on Cruz for using “dirty tricks” on the trail. On the night of the caucuses, the Cruz campaign sent out communications to supporters that said Carson was leaving the presidential race, and Cruz backers should rally Carson voters to instead cast their vote for the Texas senator.
Cruz responded by blaming CNN, which had reported the “breaking news” that Carson was traveling home to Florida for “fresh clothes” after Iowa, rather than traveling directly to New Hampshire as is typical.