Ted Cruz Fires Chief Spokesperson

A developing pattern of misleading attacks has raised ethics questions.

NY TIMES | by Matt Flegenheimer & Nick Corasaniti

Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign erupted in turmoil on Monday as Mr. Cruz fired his chief spokesman for spreading a misleading video of Senator Marco Rubio — an ill-timed shake-up for a campaign already under duress on the eve of the Republican caucuses in Nevada.

For Mr. Cruz, who has vigorously defended himself in recent weeks as rivals accused him of running an underhanded race, the episode cuts at the premise of his bid. He has cast himself as the candidate of honesty and integrity, with a faith-based pitch and a backdrop that reads “TrusTed” during speeches.

On Monday, amid persistent sniping from Mr. Rubio and Donald J. Trump about the Cruz campaign’s penchant to mislead, the Texas senator was at last forced to acknowledge his team had gone too far.

Mr. Tyler’s dismissal, and Mr. Cruz’s acknowledgment of a campaign misstep, were a clear boon to Mr. Rubio on another front, creating the kind of cudgel that could prove powerful at a crucial stage of the race.   It represents a public admission of what Mr. Rubio and Mr. Trump have angrily asserted for weeks: that Mr. Cruz has employed deceitful tactics to undermine his rivals, including a photograph doctored by his aides that suggested Mr. Rubio was shaking hands with President Obama in front of the Capitol in Washington.

Privately, Mr. Cruz’s advisers have acknowledged that perceptions about his integrity had taken a toll since his victory in Iowa. On caucus night, his team spread word to voters — with a liberal interpretation of a CNN report — that Ben Carson planned to suspend his campaign.   The mild-mannered Mr. Carson, widely admired even by non-supporters, seethed with anger, and much of the Republican field came to his defense.

Days earlier, Mr. Cruz had earned a rebuke from Iowa’s secretary of state for mailers that accused residents of nonexistent “voter violations.”

There have been lesser unforced errors, as when Mr. Cruz pulled one of his campaign ads after learning that an actress in it had a prior career in soft-core pornography.

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