Updated: 9 a.m. Tuesday
The Penn student newspaper is at the center of a presidential campaign controversy that resulted in Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz firing his communications director.
Rick Tyler, who was Cruz’ national campaign spokesman, reportedly shared a video on Facebook that was posted by The Daily Pennsylvanian that indicated presidential candidate Marco Rubio made a comment about the Bible — a comment Rubio’s campaign is now saying he didn’t make.
The DP, which sent student reporters to cover the presidential race in South Carolina, posted the exchange to its politics blog Saturday with an accompanying video that amassed some 142,000 views on YouTube. The video, uploaded to an account owned by staffer Matthew Mizbani, shows Rubio approaching a Cruz staffer who is reading the Bible. Subtitles show Rubio says to the staffer: “Got a good book there, not many answers in it.”
However, Alex Conant, a spokesman for Sen. Rubio’s campaign, said Rubio really said, “Got a good book there, all the answers are in there.”
“I know exactly what I said to that young man,” Rubio told reporters today in Nevada. “I said, ‘The answer to every question you’ll ever have is in that book,’ and then I pointed to the Book of Proverbs, which he was reading, and then I said ‘Particularly that one.”
Tyler apparently shared the video on his Facebook page and then deleted it, posting this afterwards:
Since the Rubio campaign corrected The DP, it’s updated its blog post, stressing that it showed the Cruz staffer the video footage Sunday morning, and he did not correct their transcript.
“Rick Tyler is a good man. This was a grave error of judgement,” Cruz told reporters Monday. “It turned out the news story he sent around was false but I’ll tell you even if it was true we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate. Even if it was true our campaign should not have sent it.”
Rubio’s campaign responded to Cruz’s move to fire Tyler, saying: “Rick is a really good spokesman who had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected. There is a culture in the Cruz campaign, from top to bottom, that no lie is too big and no trick too dirty.”
The move to fire his spokesman comes after a number of complaints from Republican presidential candidates that Cruz is running a dirty campaign. He was accused of stealing votes from candidate Ben Carson by circulating news that the doctor was dropping out of the race in Iowa — he wasn’t. Cruz has also been threatened with a lawsuit by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump who says Cruz campaign attack ads against him are false.
We’ve reached out to the editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian for comment. The newspaper on Monday posted a letter from the editor that outlined the timeline of its reporting.