Top advisers and surrogates for Marco RubioMarco RubioTop Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms Rubio defends Trump: 'This whole flip-flop thing is a political thing' Rubio: Shutdown would have 'catastrophic impact' on global affairs MORE’s presidential campaign lashed out at GOP rival Ted CruzTed CruzWeek ahead in tech: Trump's antitrust pick heads before Senate Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's FDA pick Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE on Thursday, accusing the Texas senator of fostering a “culture of dishonesty” within his campaign.
“It’s disturbing to see the pattern from the Cruz campaign, a consistent pattern of personal destruction rooted in falsehood,” Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzHow Chaffetz could get rich on K Street Oversight asks Trump for details on foreign profit donations Jason Chaffetz exploring private sector jobs: report MORE (R-Utah), a Rubio supporter, told reporters on a conference call. “It’s dirty pool and I think people are sick of it and fed up with it.”
The latest flap is over a photo on the website therealrubiorecord.com, in which Rubio’s head has been photo-shopped onto the body of a man shaking hands with President Obama.
“My fellow South Carolinians do not mind tough politics but it has to be fair, it has to be accurate,” Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyFive questions for the House's new Russia investigator Chaffetz decision stuns Washington Who will replace Chaffetz on Oversight? MORE (R-S.C.), a Rubio supporter, said in a video on Thursday. “So when you run ads … that are so fake that you photoshop someone else’s head on another body, come on — the truth matters.”
The Cruz campaign has not yet responded to a question about the altered photo.
Over the last several weeks, Cruz’s rivals have blamed his campaign for illegal push polls going out to South Carolina voters, as well as a fake Facebook page in which Gowdy retracts his support for the Florida Republican.
The Cruz campaign denies being involved with either of those. But the Rubio campaign is blaming a lax moral culture within Cruz’s campaign for the deceptions.
“We don’t know whether the Cruz campaign is specifically behind Facebook post or not,” Rubio strategist Todd Harris said.
“What we do know is that there’s a culture of dishonesty from top to bottom in the Cruz campaign, where telling lies is not only tolerated, but seems to be encouraged. He’s created a culture with no premium on truth and this is the result of it.”
Cruz’s rivals have been seeking to build a case against him as a untruthful candidate who is willing to play dirty.
The narrative began just hours before the Iowa caucuses, when the Cruz campaign spread false reports that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. Cruz has personally apologized and called that a misunderstanding.
Cruz’s rivals also point to an official-looking mailer sent to voters in Iowa that alleged the recipient must vote or be in violation of the law.
And last week, a television station pulled an ad from an outside group supporting Cruz but not affiliated with his campaign because of questionable claims it made about Rubio.
Rubio and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: Chinese president ‘likes me a lot’ GOP senator: There will never be full U.S.-Mexico border wall Bottom Line MORE have also taken issue with Cruz’s attacks on their records, claiming that the Texas Republican is distorting their positions on key issues like abortion, gun rights and illegal immigration.
At a fiery press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Cruz unloaded on his rivals for calling him “liar” every time he seeks to make distinctions between his record and theirs.
“Two candidates in this race, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, both have the same pattern,” Cruz said. “Whenever someone points out their record, they simply start screaming liar, liar liar. It’s a very odd dynamic.”
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