Time’s Zeke Miller revealed yesterday afternoon that Ted Cruz had asked his senior spokesperson to resign after he spread false rumors about Marco Rubio. Namely, that Rubio had mocked the Bible. Cruz called Rick Tyler’s act a “grave error of judgment.”
Here is the whole sordid tale:
Apparently, Rubio bumped into Ted Cruz’s father, in company with a Cruz staffer in the lobby of a South Carolina hotel and commented on the staffer’s book, the Bible. The exchange that ensued is what got Tyler fired. As you can see from the photo at top, Cruz stopped by the staffer’s table and remarked on the Bible in front of him, saying something like “Got a good book man,” to which the staffer replies, “Yes sir.”
Watch the video of the brief encounter courtesy of Matthew Mizbani:
The Daily Pennsylvanian, the University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper, ran a story about the encounter Saturday titled, “Marco Rubio has awkward confrontation with Rafael Cruz, Cruz staffer in hotel lobby.” In this story, Ellie Schroeder offered a transcription of the exchange between the two men that suggested Rubio mocked the Bible, saying that there are “not many answers in it.”
Spokesperson Tyler immediately went to Twitter and Facebook and shared The Daily Pennsylvanian‘s version of events, captured here by Joe Pounder:
— Joe Pounder (@PounderFile) February 21, 2016
Yet what Rubio seems to say in the very brief exchange is, “all the answers are in there,” not that there are “not many answers in it.” As he is leaning over in the photo above, what Rubio is saying is, “Especially in that one.”
This is pretty far from what Tyler claims is said, and it can be heard clearly in the audio despite The Daily Pennsylvanian‘s updated version of the story, which claims “it is too unclear to say for sure.”
Rubio’s campaign was quick to push back, including Director of Faith Outreach Eric Teetsel, who called “dirty tactics” on the Cruz campaign. In fact, Alex Conant, Rubio’s communications director, says “all the answers are in there” is exactly what was said.
He tweeted, “How do I know? I’m in the video!!” And he is: he is the man standing directly above Rafael Cruz in the photo, and so well-within hearing distance.
As evidence, he tweeted this video, which shows the accurate transcript of what was said:
Here is a presidential candidate, talking to his rival’s top spokesperson, his father’s dominionist father looking on, and we are supposed to believe Rubio mocked the Bible, cameras rolling and all?
Apparently, even someone as dishonest as Ted Cruz could not stretch that scenario into a viable lie.
Things must have happened quickly. Cruz announced that he had asked for his resignation, yet according to NBC’s Katy Tur, “Cruz spox Rick Tyler was about to go live on MSNBC when he abruptly left.” So it must have been a quick phone call made before Tyler could say something to make the situation worse.
Donald Trump was of course, quick to take up the cry on twitter:
Wow, Ted Cruz falsely suggested Marco Rubio mocked the Bible and was just forced to fire his Communications Director. More dirty tricks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2016
Ted Cruz’s presidential race has had more than its fair share of controversies. He’s supposed to be the messiah on the road to Washington, but no reading of the New Testament shows Jesus playing a bunch of dirty tricks on the road to Jerusalem.
While on a flight from Reno to Vegas, Rubio remarked, tweeted Zeke Miller, that Tyler is a “fall guy” for the larger Cruz campaign of deception.
No matter how this played out behind the scenes, it does not reflect well on Ted Cruz or on his campaign. We will never know who is to blame, if Cruz openly encouraged these sorts of underhanded shenanigans, or if Rick Tyler just got into the spirit of the thing and let his enthusiasm get away with him. But he’s gone, damage is contained, and the race continues, though Teetsel probably enjoyed tweeting Sunday that,
“That Bible hit was so bad Drudge is linking to a Breitbart piece defending Marco Rubio. No, really.”
Rick Tyler manned up late last night and apologized to Marco Rubio, posting on Facebook that,
I want to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today. The story showed a video of the Senator walking past a Ted Cruz staffer seated in the lobby of a hotel reading his Bible. The story misquoted a remark the Senator made to the staffer. I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the Senator made a friendly and appropriate remark. Since the audio was unclear, I should not have assumed the story was correct. I’ve deleted the post because I would not knowingly post a false story. But the fact remains that I did post it when I should have checked its accuracy first. I regret the mistake.
So far as is known, Cruz has escaped without either apologizing or taking responsibility, both acts anyone who sees himself worthy of the presidency must be willing to do. Cruz can fire Tyler, but he cannot absolve himself of that responsibility since it is, after all, his campaign.
As Ben Mankiewicz (Turner Classic Movies) and Elliot Hill (The Lip TV) of the Young Turks break it down, Trump is right that Cruz is a “giant liar” and he has “liars working for him.” That’s as solid an analysis as you’re going to find.
And it illustrates for Tyler, if not for the deceitful Cruz, the dangers of believing what you want to be true to be true. That is a disease that infects the entire conservative reality bubble and it will continue to confound them going forward.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.