Governor Terry Branstad is crediting Ted Cruz for running an “old-fashioned”, 99-county campaign that yielded victory in Monday night’s Iowa Caucuses, but Branstad is joining the chorus criticizing Cruz for “questionable” campaign tactics.
“This thing that they distributed on Caucus night saying that Dr. Carson was likely to drop out and his supporters should support Cruz, that is, I think, unethical and unfair,” Branstad said this morning. “I think there’ll be repercussions to that.”
Cruz has apologized to Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who finished fourth in the Caucuses on Monday night. Iowa Congressman Steve King, a Cruz backer, helped spread the drop out rumor and Branstad said King owes Carson an apology.
“You know, we have a strong sense of fairness in Iowa,” Branstad said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “Distributing information that was not true about a candidate right at the time people are voting in the Caucuses is an inappropriate thing.”
King tweeted: “Carson looks like he’s out” on Caucus night. King has told reporters in Washington, D.C. he had an “obligation” to tell Iowans about a report he’d seen indicating Carson was flying home to Florida Monday night rather than going to New Hampshire. Branstad is not out personally recruiting a Republican to challenge King in a primary this June.
“Yet I think there are a number of people in the renewable fuels industry that are not happy with (King),” Branstad says. “I guess time will tell what happens.”
Branstad is a critic of Cruz’s opposition to the federal ethanol production mandate. Two weeks before the Caucuses Branstad said he hoped Cruz would be defeated — a move Congressman King blasted as a “de facto endorsement” of Donald Trump.
“Well, I did,” Branstad said today of his wish for Cruz’s defeat. “Actually, I think Trump, by skipping the debate, hurt himself.”
Branstad’s 2010 and 2014 campaign managers migrated to New Jersey Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. Christie finished 10th, with fewer than 3300 votes. Branstad said Christie didn’t spend enough time campaigning in Iowa.
“None of the governors did well,” Branstad said. “…Rubio came on strong at the end because people were looking for somebody new.”
The Caucus winner was someone Branstad opposed and Christie finished next to last, but Branstad rejects the notion Monday’s Caucus results are in any way a rebuke of him.
“First of all I’m not running for president. I’ve never had an interest in running for president or national office,” Branstad said. “My focus is on my state and jobs in my state and farm income.”
AUDIO of Radio Iowa’s interview with Governor Terry Branstad
Branstad attended his precinct caucus Monday night, but he is not revealing who he voted for. Branstad said the record turn-out for Monday’s Republican Caucuses was “an encouraging sign” for the fall election, since Iowa is likely to be a toss-up state in the presidential race.