Two voice mails apparently left by Ted Cruz campaign reps told Iowa precinct chairs to use reports that Ben Carson was “suspending campaigning” to encourage caucusgoers to chose Cruz over Carson, Breitbart reported.
Breitbart posted the audio of two of the voice mails, both left on the phone of Nancy Bliesman, a precinct captain for Cruz in Crawford County, Iowa. They were left at 7:07 p.m. and 7:29 p.m CST (caucusing began at 7), notably after the Carson campaign clarified a CNN report that he was taking a brief respite from the campaign trail after Iowa. A Carson spokesperson tweeted a little before 7 pm CST that the neurosurgeon was making a quick jaunt to his home in Florida to refresh his wardrobe before returning to the campaign trail.
In the first, the caller identified herself as being from the Cruz campaign looking to get in touch with a precinct captain.
“It has just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail,” she said. “So it is very important that you tell any Ben Carson voters that for tonight, uh, that they not waste a vote on Ben Carson, and vote for Ted Cruz. He is taking a leave of absence from his campaign.”
In the second, the caller said he was with the Cruz campaign and that he had “breaking news.”
“Dr. Ben Carson will be … suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucusgoers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead,” he said.
Cruz — who scored a solid victory in Iowa — was already in trouble for a mobile app message that went out on the night of the Iowa caucus telling recipients that Ben Carson “will stop campaigning after Iowa.”
In a response to Breitbart, Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier did not deny the authenticity of the voicemails and said they “are in line with the reports that were made at that time.”
“Our campaign shared an accurate report that Carson was suspending campaigning after the caucuses – he went home and he went to D.C. – and these voicemails do not suggest that he would completely drop out of the race,” she said.
She added that “it should surprise no one that Carson’s initial announcement he was taking time off the trail would be a news story. It is highly unusual for candidates to take time off the trail between the first voting states.”