The back-and-forth between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — battling each other to become Donald Trump’s chief competitor — escalated to new heights on Thursday as Cruz’s campaign apparently photoshopped a jubilant Rubio with President Obama and Rubio’s campaign fired back by accusing Cruz of “dishonest tactics.”
What appears to be a doctored image of a smiling Marco Rubio shaking the hand of President Obama appears on the website, TheRealRubioRecord.com, which is paid for by Cruz’s campaign. On that site, the text reads: “After more than seven years of the destructive policies of President Obama, we shouldn’t replace him with his Republican clone.”
On Thursday, Buzz Jacobs, a senior adviser to the Rubio campaign in South Carolina, said the photo was phony during a conference call with reporters. “I think it continues a pattern of dishonest tactics and dirty tricks that the Cruz campaign has become known for,” Jacobs said.
“When you see this latest trick about photoshopping Sen. Rubio’s head onto a body that’s not his, that’s just another dishonest tactic that is becoming the brand of the Ted Cruz campaign,” Jacobs added.
Here is the image:
And here is the stock photo that Cruz’s campaign appears to have used:
Here's the stock photo Cruz's team used for that Rubio, Obama handshake. pic.twitter.com/FGJCHXjp4x
— Vince Coglianese (@TheDCVince) February 18, 2016
According to a CNN reporter, the Cruz campaign initially said: “I am confident that our campaign would not use a photo that is not authentic.”
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) February 18, 2016
The Daily Caller has reached out to Cruz’s campaign about the issue.
That Cruz and Rubio are continuing to spar as South Carolina heads to the polls on Saturday is no surprise. Polls show businessman Donald Trump in the lead, with Cruz and Rubio fighting for second place in the state.
A Fox News poll released Thursday shows Trump at 32 percent, Cruz at 19 percent and Rubio at 15 percent.
The brouhaha over the photo comes as Rubio’s campaign has already been accusing Cruz of dishonesty, suggesting the Texas senator’s campaign was behind a fake Facebook page purporting to show South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy renouncing his support for Rubio.Cruz denied having anything to do with the page, saying: “Our campaign had absolutely nothing to do with this fraudulent Facebook post. This kind of deception is deplorable and nothing like it would be tolerated by this campaign.”
During the campaign conference call with reporters on Thursday, Rubio’s campaign — which has attacked the Texas senator over the issue — admitted that it did not have any evidence that Cruz or his campaign had anything to do with the page.
Rubio adviser Todd Harris said: “We don’t know whether the Cruz campaign specifically was behind this Facebook post or not. What we do know is that there is a culture of dishonesty that goes from top to bottom in the Cruz campaign where telling lies is not only tolerated, but seems to be encouraged.”