The Ted Cruz campaign is denying any involvement, but a mysterious Facebook post attributed to “Trey Gowdy Prayers” has raised holy hell in South Carolina this week, only days before Republican primary voters are headed to the polls.
In the post, which is no longer available for public view, a writer claiming to be South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy disavows his endorsement of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the GOP nomination, saying it was a “grave mistake,” and he asks supporters to vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz instead.
One of the things that stands out in that message is the misspelling of the word “intellect,” an error one could hardly attribute to Rep. Gowdy.
Gowdy is a favorite of conservatives nationally and in his home state, thanks to his grueling grilling of Obama administration officials for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as chairing the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
He’s also a vocal Rubio supporter, and Rubio’s campaign on Monday released a statement from Gowdy denouncing the post and demanding Cruz publicly repudiate it.
“The truth actually matters to me and to all South Carolinians,” Gowdy said in the statement. “Unfortunately, it appears that the campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz may not place the same value on waging a contest based on the truth and facts.
“Nothing could be further from the truth and I’m demanding that Senator Cruz and his campaign repudiate these dishonest and underhanded tactics. We can have a debate about the future of our party and our country. But we need not leave our integrity behind.”
The Cruz campaign promptly complied, calling the Facebook post “fraudulent” and “deplorable.”
This kind of deception is deplorable and nothing like it would be tolerated by this campaign. https://t.co/ZUqtCu2Kme
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 16, 2016
This is the third time since primary season got underway that the campaign of the Texas senator has been accused of dirty tricks against one of his rivals. In Iowa, Cruz campaign staffers helped publicize a story that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was withdrawing from the race and asked caucus goers to switch their support to Cruz. Last week, hard-hitting robocalls critical of Republican front-runner Donald Trump started in South Carolina, with Trump making a public case that Cruz was behind them.
Cruz acknowledged his campaign was responsible for spreading the Carson story, but blamed it on the media for reporting it in the first place. His campaign has denied being behind the robocalls.
And that doesn’t even count the other Iowa controversy, where the Cruz campaign sent out controversial “Voting Violation” notices in the mail to encourage voters who had skipped previous elections to turn out in the Iowa caucuses. While not technically illegal, the mailings did cause quite a ruckus for Cruz for apparently misleading voters — there is no “voting violation” involved when a voter sits out an election.
Cruz defended the mailer, saying, “I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote.”
In the case of the Facebook post, the Cruz campaign would have to be crazy to have tried something like this. First of all, a post about Trey Gowdy would hardly go unnoticed by the media for three days before polls opened, allowing ample time for the post to be debunked — which it was. Second, unlike the robocalls, the Facebook post had an identifiable source. Even if the source turned out to be sketchy, it could be tracked down and debunked — which it was.
Finally, the Ted Cruz campaign might have many faults — every campaign does. But thinking Trey Gowdy doesn’t know how to spell “intellect” is surely not one of them.