Ted Cruz admits fault, apologizes to Ben Carson for spreading false rumors of his demise

But even in his apology, Cruz called his campaign's move "fair game"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published February 2, 2016 8:06PM (EST)

  (AP/Rainier Ehrhardt/Tony Gutierrez/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/Rainier Ehrhardt/Tony Gutierrez/Photo montage by Salon)

After initialing denying any wrongdoing, Ted Cruz's campaign is reversing course and extending apologies to fourth place GOP Iowa caucus finisher Ben Carson for falsely suggesting that the retired neurosurgeon had dropped out of the race in the middle of voting Monday night.

"The Ben Carson allegation, it’s just false,”Cruz spokesperson Rick Tyler told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday morning, denying accusations from the Carson campaign that the Cruz campaign told precinct captains in Iowa that Carson had suspended his campaign upon reports that he planned to return to Florida to change clothes after the caucuses.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, however, Cruz admitted fault. "Last night when our political team saw the CNN post saying that Dr. Carson was not carrying on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, our campaign updated grassroots leaders just as we would with any breaking news story," the winner of the Iowa caucus wrote.

"That's fair game," he continued, defending his campaign's actions as an innocent mistake. "What the team then should have done was send around the follow-up statement from the Carson campaign clarifying that he was indeed staying in the race when that came out."

"This was a mistake from our end, and for that I apologize to Dr. Carson," Cruz said.

Carson had lashed out Cruz for what he called "dirty tricks," invoking Joseph Stalin to argue that "we’re within the process of collapsing from within if we continue to accept deceit and dirty tricks and lies":

Fresh Off Iowa Win, Cruz Courts New Hampshire Voters

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Aol_on Ben Carson Gop Civil War Iowa Caucus 2016 Iowa Caucuses 2016 Ted Cruz Video