DES MOINES, Iowa — Deana Bass, the national press secretary for 2016 GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, told Breitbart News on Monday evening that the Carson campaign believes his GOP opponents played dirty tricks on him by getting the media to falsely suggest Carson was suspending his campaign after Iowa’s caucuses.
“We are moving forward getting ready for the NH debate and primary,” Bass said in an email. “You know we have solid state directors in both. And our opportunity to do well in SC is strong. Not at all pleased with the caucus tricks played by our opponents. Telling voters that Dr. Ben Carson was suspending his campaign is low and doesn’t serve the party well at all.”
It’s unclear specifically which candidates she was referring to as Carson’s opponents, but Carson is not dropping out despite a report from CNN’s Chris Moody as the caucuses began suggesting he might be.
“Ben Carson will likely speak at his victory party in Iowa before caucus results are in so he can catch a flight,” Moody Tweeted.
“Carson won’t go to NH/SC, but instead will head home to Florida for some R&R,” Moody added. “He’ll be in DC Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast.”
While those reports via Twitter aren’t a direct claim that Carson is dropping out, the idea that he wouldn’t take his campaign to the next steps immediately in New Hampshire and South Carolina but would instead go home for “R&R” are a suggestion that he may be dropping out. In response, Carson’s campaign fired back hard with a statement in the middle of the caucuses.
“Contrary to false media reports, Dr. Ben Carson is not suspending his presidential campaign, which is stronger than ever. After spending 18 consecutive days on the campaign trail, Dr. Carson needs to go home and get a fresh set of clothes,” the Carson campaign statement said. “He will be departing Des Moines later tonight to avoid the snow storm and will be back on the trail Wednesday. We look forward to tonight’s caucus results and to meaningful debates in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
Moody did add another Tweet saying Carson planned to stay in the race: “Ben Carson’s campaign tells me he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.”
But now Carson’s campaign, in this statement to Breitbart News late on Monday evening, is accusing other GOP candidates of pushing that story to Moody to undermine his chances in the caucuses as they began. Carson finished the caucuses with 9.3 percent of the vote solidly in fourth place.
Bass has not answered follow up emails when asked which opponents she was referring to, and if there’s evidence to back up the charge.
Carson’s team did, according to Fortune Magazine, point the finger at Iowa caucuses winner Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz’s team however denied the allegations that they were behind it.
This could get interesting.
In a statement from Carson himself, the candidate condemned “dirty tricks” by his opponents in the caucuses on Monday.
“I am grateful for the confidence Iowans have placed in me, as tonight we defeated three former sitting governors and two previous Iowa Caucus winners,” Carson said. “Regardless of how the media has attempted to marginalize me and my campaign, I still have the highest favorability rating and have remained among the leading candidates in every major survey. For months, my campaign has survived the lies and dirty tricks from opponents who profess to detest the games of the political class, but in reality are masters at it. Even tonight, my opponents resorted to political tricks by tweeting, texting and telling precinct captains to announce that I had suspended my campaign – in some cases asking caucus goers to change their votes. One of the reasons I got into this race was to stop these deceptive and destructive practices, and these reports have only further steeled my resolve to continue and fight for ‘We The People,’ and return control of the government back to them. I want to thank Ryan Rhodes, Iowa State Director, who has led an incredible team of staff and volunteers. His leadership and their commitment to building a strong ground game will provide the momentum needed to move forward to the next state contests, in New Hampshire, South Carolina – and beyond.”