Ben Carson’s schedule is fluid and somewhat unpredictable.
I reported on Jan. 26 that Carson would not be in Iowa after last week’s debate, and it turns out I was incorrect–his website events section lists all kinds of events which the candidate himself doesn’t attend. A better source for Carson’s schedule is found on Eventbrite (a site many candidates use to set up their public appearances). That site shows Carson is in Concord, N.C. (near Charlotte) on Feb. 4, then nothing until Feb 8 in Florida.
The day of the Iowa caucuses, a rumor had been floating around all afternoon that Carson was taking some time off, and might possibly be weighing his continuing in the race. When the rumor finally hit CNN, Chris Moody tweeted several things.
Ben Carson's campaign tells me he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.
— Chris Moody (@moody) February 2, 2016
The first tweet indicated that Carson was heading to Florida, then to the National Prayer Breakfast (and I assume continuing from there to Charlotte). The second tweet is the clarification that the Carson campaign indicated their candidate was staying in the race.
What aired on CNN was that Carson was taking a break, and at that point, the Cruz campaign notified its caucus-bound volunteers of the news. This is a normal communication function of the campaign. But time being what it is, the followup was not distributed, and that led to some volunteers using the information inside the caucus.
“”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,” Cruz said in a statement first shared with CNN. “That’s fair game. 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.”
Had Cruz dodged the issue, become defensive, or attempted a cover-up, I’d be upset with him. But he didn’t do any of that. It was a straightforward apology for mishandling a communication issue. There’s no evidence that the Cruz campaign planted the story about Carson’s break.
In short, this is not a “dirty trick.” But Carson’s statement and backhanded apology is disingenuous.
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.
“As a Christian I will accept the apology but it doesn’t correct the problem,” Carson told CNN. “This is a cultural issue when people in your campaign feel that it’s ok to distort the issues to their political advantage and to tell absolute lies. And the question really is will there be any consequences for that.”
Should there be a consequence for a campaign telling its volunteers about something legitimately reported in the news? Should there be no burden on the Carson campaign to get the news out to their own volunteers after it was on CNN?
If Carson supporters walked into the caucus room with less information about their own candidate’s intentions and schedule than Cruz’s volunteers, is that the responsibility of the Cruz campaign? I believe it was a legitimate SNAFU on Cruz’s part.
But for Carson to make political hay using words like “as a Christian I will accept the apology” without actually accepting the apology is drifting toward the same kind of language Trump uses when he said “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!”
If Carson doesn’t believe Cruz, he should say so and provide proof. Otherwise, he should man up and do a better job managing his own campaign, which throws off rumors like a wet dog.