Cruz campaign voicemail said Carson was 'suspending campaigning'

Story highlights

  • Ted Cruz's campaign staff called Iowa precinct captains Monday night to tell them that Ben Carson was "suspending campaigning" and that they should alert caucus attendees in an effort to sway voters
  • Cruz precinct captain Nancy Bliesman told CNN she received two messages Monday night saying that Carson was leaving the campaign trail

Washington (CNN)Ted Cruz's campaign staff called Iowa precinct captains Monday night to tell them that Ben Carson was "suspending campaigning" and that they should alert caucus attendees in an effort to sway voters.

Cruz precinct captain Nancy Bliesman told CNN she received two messages Monday night saying that Carson was leaving the campaign trail.
    "Dr. Ben Carson will be (inaudible) suspending campaigning following tonight's caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucusgoers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead," someone who identified themselves as being from the Cruz campaign said in one message.
    In another voicemail, someone who also identified herself as being with the Cruz campaign said, "It has just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail, so it is very important that you tell any Ben Carson voters that for tonight, uh, that they not waste a vote on Ben Carson, and vote for Ted Cruz."
    The voicemails were first reported Thursday by Breitbart News and Bliesman confirmed their content to CNN.
    CNN reported Monday night that Carson would go home to Florida following the Iowa caucuses instead of flying directly to the early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina. The network added that he planned to stay in the race.
    Some Cruz allies shared that news widely on the night of the caucuses, including to Carson supporters, but did not include the part about Carson remaining in the race.
    That has irked Carson and his team, who has said the decision by the Cruz team to share only part of the CNN report was a dirty political maneuver. Donald Trump has also latched onto it as a reason to invalidate Cruz's victory over him in Iowa.
    Cruz later apologized to Carson for not clarifying the report.
    "The senator has already apologized for not more quickly making that clarification, and there is no evidence that our sharing of this news story impacted Carson's campaign -- he well outperformed expectations," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told CNN. "The voicemails are in line with the reports that were made at that time."