Sen. Marco Rubio blasted the Ted Cruz campaign for spreading a rumor — originally published by CNN — that the Florida Republican’s advisers were urging him to suspend his presidential campaign before Florida’s March 15 primary.
On Monday, after CNN ran the story on the basis of a single unnamed source, the Ted Cruz Hawaii campaign sent an email to supporters under the subject line “Wasted Vote.”
“According to multiple news sources, Marco Rubio’s advisers are telling him to drop out of the presidential race before losing his home state of Florida in a few days time,” the email said.
As it turned out, CNN was the single outlet that published the story, not “multiple news sources” as the email claimed.
In addition, immediately after CNN ran the story, Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Conant rushed to the CNN studios to refute it, and told anchor Wolf Blitzer to “stop reading that sort of fiction on air,” emphasizing that the story was “absolutely false.”
Nonetheless, CNN is standing by its original story.
The Rubio camp hit back hard on all fronts and accused the Cruz campaign of spreading false rumors.
“Senator Cruz is up to his dirty tricks again spreading false rumors and lies. We won’t allow him to do to Marco Rubio in Florida what he did to Ben Carson in Iowa,” Rubio spokesman Joe Pounder said in a statement.
“Floridians and voters across the country will reject Senator Cruz’s campaign of disgusting tactics because they know a vote for Cruz is a vote for Donald Trump.”
In addition, the candidate himself went on Fox News radio and told host Brian Kilmeade about the rumormongering.
“The point is, it ain’t true. It is a lie,” the candidate said of the CNN report in his phone interview. “It looks like Ted Cruz’s campaign is putting out emails in places like Hawaii, telling people about it and you saw that with Ben Carson earlier. It’s just not true. Right now nobody has a clear path to the 1,237 delegates.”
The Florida senator’s campaign staff also tried to reach voters through social media.
Alert: The Cruz camp sent out an email citing a false CNN story that Rubio dropping out. Rubio is NOT dropping out! pic.twitter.com/xwXN4QQOMg
— Stop Trump PAC (@StopTrumpPAC) March 8, 2016
And word soon began getting out:
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) March 8, 2016
Rubio, always known to be quick on his feet, turned lemons into lemonade by using the controversy to drum up more support and funds for his campaign.
The Rubio campaign accuses a cable news network of trying sabotage them . . . . and it’s CNN pic.twitter.com/luRENf5BC6
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) March 8, 2016
The Cruz for President Campaign didn’t take long to respond, saying they had no knowledge of the alleged emails.
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) March 8, 2016
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