Team Carson furious with Cruz

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Ben Carson and his closest advisers are going nuclear against Ted CruzTed CruzTrump's support among white Protestant Republicans ticks up GOP senator pushes Trump to adopt 'constitutional agenda' Trump: Cruz, Kasich shouldn't speak at convention without endorsement MORE and his campaign for spreading false rumors that he intended to drop out ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Carson’s close friend and adviser Armstrong Williams told The Hill in an interview on Wednesdaythat the Cruz campaign’s tactics were “nasty, brutal and deceitful.”

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“We’ve been told all along that Cruz’s operatives play dirty and were capable of this stuff, but Dr. Carson never believed it, he felt like they had a respectable operation,” Williams said. “Now we see firsthand that having integrity just doesn’t matter to them. It’s about honor and character, either you have it or you don’.”

Williams said he’s certain that Cruz knew the rumors about him dropping out were false but says the Texas Republican allowed his underlings to spread it anyway.

“He’s a pure politician and will do anything to win,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter who he does it to, friend or foe, whatever it takes to win. Cruz has been running as an outsider and calling Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton lauds Warren in first joint appearance Former Bush national security official backing Clinton over Trump Warren knocks Trump as she campaigns with Clinton MORE dishonest. Well, Cruz is the one running without honor or integrity, and this shows he’s just like everyone else inside-the-beltway.”

Cruz apologized to Carson after it was revealed that shortly before the caucuses began on Mondaynight that Cruz supporters had spread a rumor that Carson would be dropping out of the race.

Cruz and Carson were fighting for the same evangelical supporters in the Hawkeye State, and Cruz supporters at several precincts told voters that with Carson out, they should get behind Cruz.

Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, was at one of the precincts where the person speaking on Cruz’s behalf told voters that Carson was out. 

One of Cruz’s top surrogates in the state, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), also spread the rumor over Twitter.

The Cruz campaign is blaming a “CNN report,” which appears to be a Tweet from a CNN reporter saying that Carson was going home to Florida after the caucuses. Carson did go home, but only to get fresh clothes before returning to the campaign trail.

Carson has demanded Cruz fire those responsible for spreading the rumor, but Cruz has said he won’t do that.

A furious Williams, who does not have an official role in the campaign but is close with Carson, invoked the memory of Braden Joplin, the young volunteer who died in a collision on an icy Iowa highway while working for Carson’s campaign.

“After all the candidates worked so hard, and Dr. Ben Carson had a staff member lose his life working towards this day, to have someone like Cruz and his people deceive and spread falsehoods is unconscionable,” Williams said.

Carson is giving a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday afternoon to address the matter.

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpClinton lauds Warren in first joint appearance Former Bush national security official backing Clinton over Trump Warren knocks Trump as she campaigns with Clinton MORE has seized on the controversy to claim that the election was stolen from him.

Cruz took 27.6 percent support at the Iowa caucuses over Trump at 24.3 percent. Carson came in fourth place at 9.3 percent support.

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