The fight between GOP presidential candidates Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was just kicked up a notch — over a doctored photo.
After Rubio’s campaign outed a snapshot of the candidate shaking hands with President Barack Obama as a fake — and the Cruz’s people haven’t denied it — the two men have been trading barbs, with accusations that Ted is a liar and Marco is a Republican Obama flying back and forth.
The drama came to a head Thursday, days before the South Carolina primary. Both Cruz and Rubio are trailing front-runner, reality star, and billionaire Donald Trump in that state’s polls (the former second, the latter third), CNN reported.
During an event, Rubio’s senior adviser Todd Harris “gaggled” to reporters for seven minutes about a Photoshopped pic of Marco that appeared on a website created and paid for by the Texan. He handed out printouts of it while railing against the opponent.
— New Republic (@NewRepublic) February 18, 2016
“This is not Marco. This person — we don’t know who that is — but they photoshopped (his) face onto somebody else. This is how phony and how deceitful (their) campaign has become… (He) doesn’t own that tie, he doesn’t own that watch, he doesn’t own that suit.”
The stock image can be easily found online, and Ted’s people haven’t denied that the bent reality a little to make a point: the point being this his opponent is Obama’s “Republican clone” who will only continue his “destructive policies.”
The photo in question depicts the broadly grinning senator enjoying a firm handshake with an equally jolly president. The image appears on TheRealRubioRecord.com, which purports to provide his record on immigration, the Environmental Protection Agency, sugar subsidies, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NBC News explained.
And it’s that final issue that is central to the doctored picture.
The website has accused him of aligning with the commander in chief over the issue of trade promotion authority. He voted for the Trade Promotion Authority Bill, which allows the president to negotiate trade deals quickly and fast-tracks the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); the bill passed 60 to 37, with Cruz offering one of the five GOP votes against it.
Ted’s campaign is criticizing their opponent for this vote; Rubio said he only supported it because he wants to see how the International Trade Commission evaluates the TPP (however, his vote on the bill was a vote for the TPP, so that argument doesn’t really hold water). Meanwhile, Time pointed out that the Texas senator once supported the bill but “completely flip-flopped” on the issue, Harris said.
— Carolyn Moore (@ccarolson) February 18, 2016
— Brian Phillips (@RealBPhil) February 18, 2016
Ted hasn’t really denied that the image is a phony; a spokesman taunted his opponent, offering to accept any of the candidate’s pictures with Obama to replace the fake one. An adviser also tried to claim that the photo was an “illustration” and “symbolism.”
“It is simply an illustration, I don’t think anyone who looked at that website believes it is a real picture of them shaking hands.”
Spokesman Rick Tyler added that Rubio is “throwing a fit” because he’s ashamed of his “liberal record.” He also pointed out his “dirty tricks:” crashing events, taping literature in bathroom stalls, and misleading robocalls.
According to Politico, Cruz reportedly hopes that this “fit” over the photo will draw attention to the website, but Marco is using the trick as further proof that his fellow candidate is a liar.
“It is reflected in what (he) says. It is reflected by phony Facebook pages that his supporters put up. It is reflected by calls to Iowa voters saying Ben Carson dropped out, and now the latest example, a completely invented photo, attacking us for holding a position that (he) held just a few months ago,” Harris said. “There is so little honesty left in (his) campaign that they’re actually willing to Photoshop a fellow Republican’s face onto the body of some other person to completely invent an attack.”
[Photo By Joe Raedle/Getty Images]