Politics

Breitbart Just Released the Cruz Campaign's Phonecalls to Carson Supporters

February 5th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

On Thursday, Breitbart News released audio files of phone calls placed by the Ted Cruz campaign to a Ben Carson precinct captain during Monday night's Iowa caucus. The Cruz campaign said that Carson was suspending his campaign and that Carson supporters should be instructed to vote for Cruz instead.

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The first voicemail released by Breitbart was received at 7:07 PM from a call placed to Nancy Bliesman, a Carson precinct captain in Crawford County, Iowa. The transcript reads:

"...from the Ted Cruz campaign, calling to get to a precinct captain, and it has just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail, 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. All right? Thank you. Bye."

At the time of the call, the Carson campaign had already said that Carson would not be suspending his campaign. Bliesman received a second voicemail at 7:29 PM from an Iowa number that was traced back to a Cruz volunteer hotline.

"Hello, this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be [garbled] suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead. Thank you. Good night."

Carson and Cruz both received 12 votes in Bliesman's precinct. She told Breitbart News that her precinct voted before the rumor spread, "Ben Carson did get his votes in our precinct 'cause I didn’t take the calls," Bliesman said.

Whether this is the case in other Iowa precincts that may have received calls remains unclear.

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Carson spoke out against the Cruz campaigns tactics. He tweeted:

On a Friday appearance on "The View," he assured supporters that the rumors were untrue and his campaign would continue.

A similar email from Cruz’s deputy Iowa campaign director Spence Rogers was sent out several minutes before the caucus. The email told Carson supporters that Carson was "taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week." It urged caucus goers to spread the message and caucus for Cruz, and was tweeted by Donald Trump on February 3, who called for the state of Iowa to nullify the caucus results.

Carson held a press conference on Wednesday, before the voicemails were released, and said that the Cruz campaign's messages hurt him in Iowa. Cruz issued an apology to the Carson campaign. Cruz's campaign spokesperson Catherine Frazier defended the voicemails in an email sent to Breitbart on Thursday:

"The senator has already apologized for not more quickly making that clarification, and there is no evidence that our sharing of this news story impacted Carson’s campaign – he well outperformed expectations. The voicemails 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.

"Lastly, 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."

You can hear the full audio on Breitbart.