Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) campaign called precinct chairs in Iowa to encourage them to misrepresent Ben Carson’s campaign status, Breitbart News reported.
A precinct captain supporting the senator, who identified herself as Nancy Bliesman, produced two voicemails she received from the campaign telling her to tell Carson supporters he was leaving the race.
“It has just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail,” one voicemail stated. “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.”
The two voicemails were left at 7:07 p.m. and 7:29 p.m. local time, after CNN reported that Carson would be traveling to his home in Florida after the caucuses, but not ending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
The second voicemail states that Carson will be “suspending campaigning following [Monday’s] caucuses,” adding that any caucusgoers backing Carson should be urged to switch their support to Cruz.
However, Bliesman said, voters in her precinct did not receive the messages sent by the campaign.
“Ben Carson did get his votes in our precinct ’cause I didn’t take the calls,” she said.
Cruz apologized earlier this week to Carson, saying his campaign should have updated their messaging. A spokesperson for his camp, Catherine Frazier, suggested to Breitbart that CNN’s reporting on Carson’s status was mistaken.
“The voicemails are in line with the reports that were made at that time,” Frazier said. “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.”
The voicemails, as posted online, can be heard below.
[h/t Talking Points Memo]