Dr. Ben Carson, once a presidential contender leading the GOP polls, found himself swatting away rumors that he planned to drop out of the race in the heat of the Iowa caucuses Monday night.Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that this and other eyebrow-raising Cruz tactics are being ascribed to Jeff Roe, a Kansas City political consultant who's managing Cruz's campaign, and who has a reputation for ruthlessness:
The rumor was sourced to a single CNN report about Carson's plans to travel home to Florida after the Iowa caucuses -- rather than directly to New Hampshire, as is typical – and was spread by Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) campaign. It sparked a full-blown scandal as Carson claimed the Cruz camp's tactics hurt his performance in the caucuses and second-place finisher Donald Trump took up Carson's cause, calling for the election results to thrown out completely over Cruz's "fraud."
“Read up on Jeff Roe,” warned Twitter denizen @Elizabeth_Calo, who identifies herself as a Kansas State University alum. “That man makes [Karl] Rove and [Lee] Atwater look like Girl Scouts.”Regarding that rumor of Carson's withdrawal, a poster at Free Republic directs our attention to this 2010 Missourinet story about an earlier race in which Roe was involved:
... Others echoed an allegation by the Ben Carson campaign, denied by Cruz’s camp, that the Cruz campaign started a rumor late Monday that Carson was dropping out of the race.
For years, Roe has been known in Missouri political circles as a take-no-prisoners strategist whose tactics, generally on behalf of conservative Republicans, are as questionable as they are effective. Most notably, a Post-Dispatch investigation revealed he was behind a vicious, name-calling radio ad against Republican Missouri GOP candidate for governor Tom Schweich -- an ad that infuriated Schweich and which preceded his February 2015 suicide.
... In addition to the Carson allegation, Cruz’s office put out a pre-caucus mailer that has drawn fire as being deceptive.
The mailer, made to look like an official state document, warns the recipient of a “voting violation” and gives the recipient a “score” for past voting turnout. The mailer, meant to draw those voters to the polls, drew a rebuke from Iowa’s secretary of state and other candidates.
Southwest Missouri Congressional candidate Scott Eckersley blames the campaign staff of his Republican opponent for issuing a hoax that he had suspended his campaign.(Emphasis added.)
An e-mail sent to news media outlets and a “tweet” issued by a fake Twitter account announced that Eckersley had suspended his campaign due to personal reasons.
Eckersley blames his opponent, Republican Billy Long, for sending out the hoax days before the election.
“You know this is dirty politics. This is Jeff Roe-style management. That’s who Billy’s retained. That’s who he writes the big checks to,” Eckersley tells Missourinet affiliate KTTS. “This is Kansas City management doing what they do best, which is playing dirty.”
As we learn from a recent New Republic story about Roe ("Ted Cruz's Howitzer"), he's capable of much worse:
One morning in the fall of 2006, Sara Jo Shettles, a Democratic nominee for Congress from just northeast of Kansas City, was out on a campaign trip with her adult son. From the other side of their motel room, Shettles’s son yelled for his mom to come look at what was on the TV. “I looked up and there I was: the worst possible picture of me in the world with a big ‘XXX’ over my head in bright letters,” she recently recalled. The 63-year-old, wheelchair-bound Shettles, a longtime Democratic activist, was running against Sam Graves -- and, by extension, Jeff Roe....Oh, and there's this from 2008 -- the attack ad that, according to The New Republic, "put Roe on the map" (an attack that echoes Cruz's current references to Donald Trump's "New York values"):
Years before, Shettles had worked for General Media Inc., selling ads for the science magazine Omni and a few other trade mags. Roe seized on the fact that General Media’s flagship title was none other than Penthouse. That was more than enough for him to cut the defining ad of the race. His triple-X attack ad accused Shettles of peddling “smut” and effectively made her out to be a pornographer. Shettles defended herself by saying she was hired by Omni, paid by Omni, and never sold ads directly for Penthouse. (She told me recently that she handled contracts that also included ads for Penthouse.) Roe wasn’t buying it. “She worked for scum,” he told the Kansas City Star at the time.
Shettles had challenged Graves to a debate during the campaign. Not long after the triple-X ad aired, she returned to her campaign office to find a voice mail message from Roe:
[Roe hums a melody] Hi, this is Jeff Roe calling from Penthouse -- I mean, uh, Graves for Congress. Call me when you can. I’m interested in your debate memo. I know you’re waiting on a sponsor for a media host. So, gimme a call when you get a chance. 407-NAUGHTY-GIRLS -- I mean, 1222. Gimme a call when you can. Thanks. Bye.
... Graves beat Shettles with 62 percent of the vote.
So if Cruz continues to win, this campaign is going to get a whole lot uglier.