Feb. 18, 2016 12:18pm Kaitlyn Schallhorn
GREENVILLE, S.C. — GOP presidential hopefuls Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had a busy Thursday morning: Cruz released a new attack website hitting Rubio on immigration and trade deals, and Rubio rallied supporters in a CrossFit gym.
Following the gym rally, Rubio senior adviser Todd Harris told reporters that a new website paid for by Cruz for President features a photoshopped image of Rubio’s head on a man’s body shaking hands with President Barack Obama. Harris also took umbrage with the website’s criticism of Rubio’s vote in favor of the Trade Promotion Authority fast track, as it was initially also supported by the Texas senator.
“This is how phony and how deceitful the Cruz campaign has become,” Harris said.
The website in question cites Rubio’s record on issues such as immigration and the Trade Promotion Authority fast-track — an issue that Harris said both Cruz and Rubio supported. However, while Cruz initially voted for the controversial TPA deal to advance to the floor, he ultimately changed his position and voted against the bill in June.
The Rubio campaign gave reporters a print-out of this image from the new Cruz website on his record. Todd Harris, a campaign strategist for Rubio, said the image is Rubio’s face photoshopped on another man’s body. (Image source: TheRealRubioRecord.com)
“There is a culture of dishonesty, from top to bottom, in the Cruz for President campaign,” Harris told reporters in a CrossFit gym in Greenville. “It is reflected in what Ted Cruz himself says; it’s reflected by the phony fake Facebook pages that his supporters put up; it’s reflected by calls to Iowa voters that Ben Carson dropped out. And now the latest example — a completely invented photo of Marco Rubio attacking us for holding a position that Ted Cruz himself held just a few short months ago.”
Harris told reporters that the “Cruz campaign is desperate” and asserted that the campaign is “obviously seeing something in their internal polling numbers that is creating a sense of desperation for him and his campaign.”
Rick Tyler, a spokesman for the Cruz campaign, laughed off Harris’ accusations in an interview with TheBlaze Thursday morning.
“We have the the most consequential primary in two days, and Marco Rubio wants to talk about Facebook pages, has a senator and a former prosecutor make a fool of themselves, and he wants to talk about how he didn’t like the picture we chose for our website,” Tyler said.
The Rubio camp hit the Cruz campaign after a fake Facebook page surfaced that purported to show that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who has endorsed Rubio, switched his support to Cruz. Cruz and his campaign have adamantly denied that they were behind the page.
On the issue of the photoshopped photo of Rubio in the Cruz campaign’s latest website, Tyler contended that “every image” of Cruz put out by Rubio’s campaign is photoshopped as well.
“Send me the picture he likes with him shaking hands with Obama, and we’ll change it right away,” Tyler said.
Besides Harris’ speech to reporters Thursday, Rubio’s campaign has released robocalls that also attack Cruz’s “dishonest” campaign tactics. Rubio was joined Thursday morning by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R), Gov. Nikki Haley (R), Gowdy and Cleveland Browns quarterback Connor Shaw, who was quarterback for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
Rubio is polling in third among South Carolinians ahead of the state’s decisive primary on Saturday, only one point behind Cruz.