Let us lay out the timeline of the Ted Cruz email that has Ben Carson so upset. Sixteen minutes before the caucuses began in Iowa, CNN reported that Ben Carson was packing up and going back to Florida after Iowa. Go look at the video. It has a countdown clock. They were sixteen minutes away from the caucuses starting when the Carson news broke that he was returning to Florida.
Jake Tapper of CNN stated, “It’s very unusual, to announce that you’re going home to rest for a few days, not going on to the next site.” Dana Bash agreed, “Very unusual…Look, if you want to be president of the United States, you don’t go home to Florida. That’s just bottom line, that’s the end of the story. If you want to signal to your supporters that you’re hungry, that you want them to get out and campaign, you have to get out there too, it’s very unusual.” Tapper reiterated, “Very unusual.” To which Wolf Blitzer said, “Very significant news indeed.” CNN also tweeted the news: “After the #IACaucus, @RealBenCarson plans to take a break from campaigning.”
The Cruz campaign then sent out an email after the CNN report and as the caucuses were starting that Carson was packing up and going home and had a big announcement coming the next week. The Cruz team urged its supporters to use that news to convince the Carson team to switch to Cruz.
Then, after the Cruz email started circulating, the Carson camp announced Carson was staying in. It was an hour after the caucuses had started that the press started reporting Carson’s clarification.
Yes, the Cruz deputy who sent out the email added the “big announcement” part and that was nowhere to be found in the press. But yes, the Carson camp did send out word that he was going home to Florida and did so before the caucuses started then took almost an hour to turn things around. Were they not amateurs they should have known precisely how that would be received by everyone.
The Cruz campaign rapidly processed the news from CNN, took action to persuade Carson’s voters, and won. The Carson campaign was really slow to respond to the news, created the news themselves, and should be upset with their own team, not Ted Cruz’s team.
Then, of course, there is the Ted Cruz apology. Cruz was already inside a caucus room preparing to speak when the email from his campaign went out. He did not sign off on the campaign email. He apologized to Carson and told Carson that had he known, Cruz would not have authorized that email. Carson’s response was to demand someone be disciplined or fired, but accepted the apology. When you accept an apology, you don’t get to dictate terms.
The Carson camp can be as angry as it wants, but it needs to suck it up. They’re the ones who generated national headlines that Carson was going back to Florida. They are the ones who should have known how the media would read such a story. That they did not is another reflection of a campaign stuck in amateur hour. Politics ain’t beanbag and Cruz’s campaign operates at a faster pace than Carson’s, whose campaign moves even slower than Carson speaks.