Ted Cruz has come under fire just two days before the Iowa caucuses for sending mailers to voters here that accuse them of a “voting violation”, earning the Texas senator and his campaign a formal denunciation by top officials in the first-in-the-nation voting state.
The mailers, which came to light on Friday and were confirmed by Cruz’s campaign as their own, include a voting score and the phrase “official public record”. They call out by name not only the recipients, but also their neighbors, as part of a broader attempt to shame Iowans for not having participated in prior elections.
Paul Pate, Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, condemned Cruz’s campaign on Saturday for distributing the mailers. He said the strategy “misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law”.
“Accusing citizens of Iowa of a ‘voting violation’ based on Iowa caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act,” Pate said in a statement.
“There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa caucuses.”
Cruz struck a defiant tone in a swift response: “I apologize to nobody for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote,” he said at a press conference in Sioux City on Saturday evening. The senator went on to argue that the Iowa Republican Party had previously used such mailers and characterized them as “routine”.
The literature was “a standard mailer that folks at the Iowa Republican party and other get-out-the-vote groups have used to help motivate low-propensity voters,” said Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “We’re going to do everything we can to turn these folks out.”
Matt Schultz, Cruz’s Iowa state chairman and a former secretary of state here, added that the mailer was modelled after similar mailers in the 2014 midterm elections that were sent out by the Republican party of Iowa.
Those mailers, he said, “helped elect numerous Republican candidates during that cycle”.
Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host and key surrogate for Cruz, also dismissed the backlash – after he initially declared that the mailers were fake, and corrected himself later.
“Watching the same people not outraged when Cruz was called a fake Christian now pretend to be outraged by a mailer is, well, horse puckey,” Deacewrote on Twitter.
Even so, Cruz’s tactics raised eyebrows across the political spectrum for their directness. One Iowan tweeted his outrage with a picture of the mailer, which included an F rating for how he had voted in the past. The man said he had not been planning to caucus, but upon receiving the mailer he was, in fact, persuaded to caucus – for Florida senator Marco Rubio, one of Cruz’s chief opponents.
Asked about the mailers on Saturday, Rubio told reporters he had heard about them from voters who were upset and “disturbed”.
“It’s kind of an unusual way to end your campaign in a state,” Rubio said.
“It doesn’t sound like he’s feeling too good. It sounds like he’s under pressure and maybe not reacting very well to it, which his problematic because presidents are under pressure every day.”
- Additional reporting by Ben Jacobs in Sioux City, Iowa
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2016
Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady
MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.
"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."
Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.
Watch the video below from MSNBC.
‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case
Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."
She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.
"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."
WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial
President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."
"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."