Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson condemned “early tricks” in his campaign-night speech after the Iowa caucuses, in which the Republican candidate placed fourth.
“I was reasonably happy today until I discovered the dirty tricks that were going on,” Carson told his supporters.
“And people spreading rumours that I had dropped out and that people should caucus for somebody else,” he continued. “I mean, do you think that that is something that’s acceptable?”
Carson didn’t name the candidate or candidates he was accusing of playing dirty, but according to multiple reports, Carson’s campaign pointed to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz won the Iowa GOP caucuses in an upset over front-runner Donald Trump.
The retired surgeon had reportedly signalled that he would give a speech relatively early in the night in order to catch a flight home to Florida for some rest. In contrast, many of his rivals indicated they would immediately go to New Hampshire or South Carolina, the next two states to weigh in on the GOP primary process.
Some Cruz supporters took that as a sign that Carson was pulling the plug on his campaign.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of Cruz’s most prominent surrogates, wrote on Twitter: “Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope.”
MSNBC reported that Carson’s campaign accused Cruz supporters at individual Iowa precincts of spreading false rumours that Carson was ending his campaign. Carson’s team released a strange statement denying those rumours and saying the candidate was leaving early to avoid a snowstorm and “get a fresh set of clothes.”
In his speech, Carson invoked both Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the Bible in order to slam the rumours.
“I believe so much in America, but for some reason, we have allowed things to slip. And it was Joseph Stalin who I guess put it very succinctly. He said, ‘In order to destroy America … you have to undermine three principles: their spiritual life, their patriotism, and their morality,'” he said.
Carson added of Stalin:
And he said, “If you can undermine those things, America will collapse from within.” Well, we’re within the process of collapsing from within if we continue to accept deceit and dirty tricks and lies. And people who do that are still viable candidates for president of the United States. And we accept it. That’s the problem that’s going on.
Carson later assured his supporters that he would be soldiering on to other primary states.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “This latest set of dirty tricks just intensifies my desire to work extremely hard to break down the ugliness in the system and bring it back to we the people.”
Watch Carson’s full speech below:
NOW WATCH: Watch Trump go on a rant over a ‘popping’ microphone at a rally: ‘Don’t pay the son of a b—-‘
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.