Donald Trump has accused Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of “illegally” stealing his Monday-night Iowa caucus victory.
Cruz won the Republican Iowa caucuses on Monday in something of an upset over Trump, who had been leading polls for weeks before the voting started.
Trump tweeted Wednesday: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!”
An earlier version of Trump’s tweet had said Cruz “illegally stole” the caucus win.
In follow-up tweets, Trump hinted that he was referring to a controversy for which Cruz apologised to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on Tuesday.
Carson’s campaign accused Cruz of playing “dirty tricks” on the night of the caucuses.
At the time, Carson reportedly signalled that he was speaking early Monday and flying home to Florida, which caused some Cruz supporters to publicly speculate that Carson was withdrawing from the race. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), for example, a prominent Cruz surrogate, wrote on Twitter: “Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope.”
Carson, who placed fourth in the voting, blasted the “deceit and dirty tricks and lies” during a speech before his supporters there. Cruz apologised to Carson on Tuesday and said his team should have promoted Carson’s statement denying the rumours.
Trump also hit Cruz over a provocative mailer the senator’s campaign had sent some voters in Iowa.
“During primetime of the Iowa Caucus, Cruz put out a release that @RealBenCarson was quitting the race, and to caucus (or vote) for Cruz,” Trump tweeted.
“Many people voted for Cruz over Carson because of this Cruz fraud,” he added. “Also, Cruz sent out a VOTER VIOLATION certificate to thousands of voters.”
The real-estate mogul was humble in his concession speech Monday night, but has since launched attacks on Cruz and retweeted supporters who have called the Iowa caucuses “meaningless” and given Trump other encouragements heading into New Hampshire, the next primary state.
At a rally on Tuesday night, Trump repeated his attacks about the legality of Cruz’s candidacy for president, saying that he was “born in Canada” and warning that if he locks down the Republican nomination, Democrats are “going to sue his a– off.”
Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother, but most legal experts believe he meets the Constitution’s requirement that presidents be “natural born” citizens.
The Cruz campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.
Colin Campbell contributed to this report.
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