A staffer for Cruz sent the email after rumors began circulating
that Carson would return to Florida following Iowa's caucuses on
Monday rather than go straight to New Hampshire or South Carolina,
other early voting states in the state-by-state nominating contests
for the Nov. 8 election.
"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 email read, according to CNN.
"Please inform any Carson caucusgoers of this news and urge them to
caucus for Ted Cruz."
Carson said he was simply leaving Iowa to avoid a winter storm and
to get fresh clothes before continuing his campaign on Wednesday.
The retired neurosurgeon, who said his fourth-place performance in
Iowa would have been better had the email never been sent,
criticized the move as "a dirty trick" and said the Cruz campaign
should face some kind of consequences.
"What this does is makes me more determined than ever to try to save
our country," Carson said on Fox News on Tuesday.
In an apology released on Tuesday afternoon, Cruz, who won the Iowa
Republican caucuses, categorized the email as a regular update the
campaign would send to grassroots leaders. But the U.S. senator from
Texas acknowledged another email should have been sent once Carson
clarified he was not dropping out.
"This was a mistake from our end, and for that I apologize to Dr.
Carson," Cruz wrote.
Carson accepted the apology, his communications director, A. Larry
Ross, said in a statement later on Tuesday.
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"This incident further demonstrates that we need an individual who
is not a politician to lead and to heal our nation, not someone
driven by ambition," Ross said, adding that Carson would continue
his campaign in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said he would
not interfere in the situation.
"You take them at their word for it, and you move on to the next
state," he said on CNN.
The question remains whether the dispute will hurt Cruz, a favorite
of conservative evangelicals looking to win over Carson supporters
should Carson drop out.
Dartmouth University political scientist Linda Fowler said it could
hurt Cruz if other candidates start to pick up on the interaction
and say: "There's a reason why nobody likes Ted Cruz, and here it
(Reporting by Megan Cassella, Additional reporting by Emily
Stephenson; Editing by Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman)
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