As you may recall, on the night of the Iowa caucuses, Ted Cruz’s campaign seized on a misleading CNN report to suggest via social media that Ben Carson would be dropping out of the race the next day (he was actually slowing the somnolent pace of his campaign to a crawl, but whatever). Carson, who is of a rather paranoid frame of mind, loudly cried foul and reportedly stewed over the “dirty trick” for some time. The great moment of infamy (yes, I’m being sarcastic here) was magnified and extended when Donald Trump chose to claim Cruz’s “stolen” caucus votes were responsible for the Donald’s own loss in Iowa, and then used the whole thing to label the TrusTed candidate as a “liar” and a “nasty guy.”
Now it seems recent history is repeating itself. The virtually invisible Hawaii Republican caucuses today were enlivened when Marco Rubio’s campaign cried “dirty tricks” at Team Cruz for — you guessed it — citing another CNN report via email that suggested some of Marco Rubio’s advisers are recommending he throw in the towel (even before next week’s Florida primary) to protect his political future.
Rubio’s campaign went sorta nuts on the CNN reporter (Jamie Gangel) for reporting her conversations with Rubio “advisers” before checking with the official spokesperson, who of course swore Rubio would stay in the race until his God-ordained victory over everyone is confirmed in Cleveland. So, I guess from this floundering campaign’s point of view, Cruz repeating the story that they are attacking makes him complicit in the “dirty trick,” right? You half expect them to start calling CNN “Cruz News Network” or something.
I dunno. Call me unorthodox, but I think there are more effective ways to show your campaign is alive than to over and over and over again draw attention to a claim that it’s at death’s door. What the attack-Cruz gambit may indicate is that Rubio’s people share my feeling that Hawaii could wind up being his only chance to snag a delegate tonight and they’re pulling out all the stops there.
In any event, the “dirty trick” accusation will only reach Carson levels if Donald Trump jumps on it — say, in Thursday’s final Republican debate. It actually may be a good test of whether Trump is worried about losing Florida on March 15. If he goes after Cruz for taking votes away from poor Little Marco, maybe he’s already looking ahead to a cage match with the Texan after Rubio’s candidacy truly becomes roadkill.