Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET
A spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) presidential campaign on Tuesday accused Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) campaign of carrying out more “dirty tricks” in the Republican presidential primary.
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant on MSNBC said that Cruz’s campaign tried to “undermine” Rubio by sending an email to voters in Hawaii highlighting a CNN report that some of Rubio’s advisers were telling the Florida senator to get out of the race ahead of the Florida primary. The Rubio campaign has denied the CNN report.
Cruz Campaign sent out a release to Hawaii voters LATE last night, even after CNN story was debunked. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/WL09Bx9igI
— Ellen L. Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) March 8, 2016
“The Ted Cruz campaign sent that to some of our supporters in Hawaii yesterday suggesting that Marco Rubio is getting out of the race,” Conant said on MSNBC. “That’s the exact same thing that Ted Cruz did to Ben Carson in Iowa. There’s no place for that in Republican politics.”
In response, the Cruz campaign on Tuesday said that campaign officials did not sanction the email sent by Hawaii supporters.
“The at-issue email and social media posting was not sanctioned by the Cruz for President campaign. The campaign became aware of the email this morning by press accounts and upon investigation learned that some volunteers in Hawaii were involved in the posting,” Alice Stewart, Cruz’s communications director, said in a statement provided to TPM. “The individual(s) who sent this had no authority from the campaign to do so.”
“The campaign’s counsel has contacted those responsible, who were in no way authorized by the campaign, and demanded that the material be removed and further use of official campaign logos for any purpose be terminated,” Stewart continued.
Cruz also responded to the accusations during a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Tuesday, brushing off the claims as an attack from a “flailing” campaign.
“Look, the nature of politics is when a campaign is flailing, they attack. And they attack other candidates, and they attack their integrity,” Cruz said, according to a clip of the interview aired on MSNBC. “This particular email apparently came from a volunteer in Hawaii not affiliated with the campaign, not working for the campaign, not under authorization for the campaign. We have over 200,000 volunteers across the country. I can’t control, nor do I want to control what 200,000 volunteers do.”
Conant also mentioned a report that Cruz might open field offices in Florida.
“We have seen no evidence of Ted Cruz campaigning in Florida. He has no plans to go to Florida — at least he hasn’t announced any plans to go to Florida other than for the debate,” Conant said.
“He is not being honest about what he is doing in Florida. He’s not being honest to Republican primary voters or caucusgoers in Hawaii today. It’s an unfortunate state of the campaign,” Conant later added.
Conant continued to criticize CNN for airing the report. He told MSNBC that after he appeared on CNN on Monday afternoon to respond to the report, the network cancelled his interview on Anderson Cooper’s show.
“An hour or two later Anderson Cooper’s producers informed me they would not be covering the story and that the segment had been canceled, and canceled my interview as a result,” Conant said.
He noted that CNN is no longer airing the report, but that the story remains on the network’s website.
“Look, I think CNN has a lot of egg on its face, I don’t know how a report made it on air without anybody actually checking with the campaign to see if there was any truth to it whatsoever,” Conant said. “They certainly shouldn’t have it on on the website because it’s 100 percent false.”