Ted Cruz deliberately misled viewers tonight at the GOP debate when he blamed CNN for a message his campaign sent out the night of the Iowa caucuses claiming Ben Carson would suspend his campaign and his fans should instead vote for Cruz, the cable network said tonight.
“My political team saw CNN’s report breaking news and they forwarded that news to our volunteers, it was being covered on live television,” Cruz said during tonight’s raucous debate on ABC. Cruz said CNN had inaccurately reported Carson was suspending his campaign “from 6:30 PM to 9:15,” and “didn’t correct that story until 9:15 that night.”
“What Senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false,” CNN said in its statement. “CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct. The Cruz campaign’s actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN’s reporting. The fact that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing.”
The kerfuffle started Monday night when, shortly before the caucuses got underway, CNN reported Carson’s camp had informed them their candidate would take a break from campaigning after Iowa and head to his home in Florida but would be in Washington D.C. for Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash called the decision “very unusual.”
“The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week,” the Cruz campaign said soon thereafter in an email. “Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Cruz.”
In addition to CNN, Carson bashed Cruz for the attempt to snag his votes at the caucuses.
“I was very disappointed that members of [Cruz’s] team thought so little of me, that they thought that after having hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers … one even died – to think that I would just walk away 10 minutes before the caucus and say ‘forget about you guys,’” Carson scolded during tonight’s debate.
Cruz again apologized, but again blamed CNN’s reporting for the error.
“The bottom line is, we can see what happened,” Carson shot back. “Everybody can see what happened and you can make your own judgment.”