SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 4, 2016 — Iowans decided this week that Ted Cruz, not Donald Trump, is their choice for the GOP nomination. Iowa Democrats decided by a narrow margin that Hillary Clinton should be their nominee.
The GOP winner may soon be under investigation, both for spreading falsehoods about Dr. Ben Carson’s candidacy before and during the caucuses and for a deceptive, possibly illegal flyer sent to Iowa voters before the caucuses. The Ted Cruz that his supporters know and love is apparently not the Ted Cruz that Americans most often see.
One wonders about the Cruz campaign strategy sessions that result in deliberate acts of deception and manipulation.
Judgment always follows behavior. It may be too soon to legally judge Cruz or his campaign staff, but it is not too soon for the rest of us to judge the behavior of Ted Cruz. Cruz sits in judgment on his fellow senators and on his fellow candidates, so it is entirely appropriate to sit in judgment on Ted Cruz and the actions of his campaign.
Two disturbing and questionable actions came out of the Cruz campaign in Iowa. They may only scratch the surface of what his campaign staff has been doing behind closed doors.
The first problematic Cruz campaign tactic involved the distribution of flyers that, according to Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, “misrepresent … the role of my office, and worse, misrepresent … Iowa election law.”
Pate was quoted by Michelle Fields of Breitbart News on Jan. 31. He explained:
Accusing citizens of Iowa of a “voting violation” based on Iowa caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act … 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.
The Cruz campaign sent these flyers to Iowa voters prior to the caucuses. The flyers resembled an actual government document. “VOTING VIOLATION,” the warned. They included names, voting grades and percentage scores for each voter.
“Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record,” read the flyers. “Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.”
What did Cruz have to say? According to Breitbart, he is “remaining defiant amid criticism regarding his controversial mailer, saying that he will ‘apologize to nobody.’” Matt Schultz, state chairman for the Cruz campaign in Iowa, defended the flyers:
These mailers are common practice to increase voter turnout … Our mailer was modeled after the very successful 2014 mailers that the Republican Party of Iowa distributed to motivate Republican voters to vote, and which helped elect numerous Republican candidates during that cycle.
Cruz is from Texas, not Iowa; perhaps such flyers are common practice there.
Cruz and his campaign are themselves judgmental. They are questioning Ben Carson for even raising questions about their behavior in Iowa. Who is Carson, after all, that he should question Cruz or observe, “By their fruits you will know them”?
To be fair, Cruz did apologize—sort of. He apologized to Carson for “mistakes” made by his campaign in a second controversial event.
CDN has covered this second event—the “mistakes”—already. This was the rumor spread on the eve of the caucuses by Cruz operatives that Carson had dropped out of the race.
This certainly cost Carson some votes. According to Karl Rove, a change of four votes per precinct on average would have affected the outcome of the caucuses. Candy Carson was asked to speak to one precinct to clarify the misinformation spread by Cruz’s campaign.
Conservative talk show hosts have taken up the issue. Rush Limbaugh has asked whether anyone has come forward to testify to this kind of dirty-trickery. One wonders how any witnesses would get through the overloaded switchboard of the Limbaugh program, but there are witnesses.
As for the Carson America campaign, it must assess the damage caused in Iowa and the damage that might continue in the wake of the Iowa caucuses.
Cruz’s first-place Iowa finish may have been a Pyrrhic victory. He did not lead in late polling prior to Monday’s event, and he may have been desperate to take foul measures to close the gap between him and Trump. He pulled off an amazing upset.
But at what cost?
The deceit and manipulation of America’s political class are the reason Carson entered the presidential race. Cruz’s win in Iowa depended on a good turnout of Evangelical voters. By divine grace, he can certainly be forgiven for going after those voters dishonestly, but should the voters forgive him? His actions are hard to ignore.
There is a lot to say about the Cruz campaign tactics, but Carson said it best in a recent press conference: “By their fruits you will know them.” This is always a true measuring stick. Our problem is to see things for what they really are, not as we want them to be. And that may be the problem with the democratic electoral process.