During an interview on Fox News' "The O’Reilly Factor" Wednesday evening, Karl Rove accused the Ted Cruz presidential campaign of potentially cheating Donald Trump out of winning the Iowa caucus by implying that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.
“At 7:00 p.m., the Cruz campaign — Spence Rogers — sends out a tweet," Rove said. "And the tweet is headlined, 'Press says that Carson is going to take a break' and then it says he’s going home, and he has a big announcement later this week, so tell all the Carson people to caucus with the Cruz people.”
The Cruz campaign defended the move by saying they used CNN’s reporting. Rove denied this to be the case.
“At 7:53, the Carson campaign sends out a thing saying, 'We’re here, we’re staying in the race,'" Rove said. "'We’re going to New Hampshire and South Carolina.' And at 8:20, the national co-chairman of the [Cruz] campaign, Steve King, sends out a tweet saying, 'It looks like Carson is getting out of the race.' Now, they knew at this point that this was inaccurate.”
Cruz in his initial explanation about this said we were sending it to our team, leaving the implication, I suspect, to most viewers, that this had to do with sending it out to staff members. No, no, no, they sent this to their nearly 1,500 precinct captains. There are 1,500 precincts in the state. And they sent this message from Spence [Rogers] to those precinct captains. Now why does that matter? Now the gap between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is 6,239 votes. There are 1,500 precincts. Do the math: if this message caused precinct captains in the precincts to tell the Carson people, well, your guy is getting out. ... If that cost Carson four votes per precinct to switch to Cruz, then Cruz beats Trump. If he doesn’t switch four, then he loses.
Host Bill O’Reilly said that he wants “people to know how serious this is.”
“I’m not rooting for Carson, I would do this for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders,” O’Reilly said. “This is wrong and it’s out of control and it better stop.”
Trump reacted to the segment on Twitter:
Trump previously accused Cruz of cheating during the caucus and threatened to take legal action against him.
Cruz has apologized to Carson and his campaign for the incident