- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2016

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Sen. Marco Rubio warned South Carolina voters Friday to be on the lookout for campaign “tricks” perpetrated by Sen. Ted Cruz as the hours tick down to the voting here on Saturday in the GOP presidential primary.

After Mr. Cruz was accused of dirty tricks in Iowa, Mr. Rubio said voters shouldn’t trust him to play clean in South Carolina, which already has a history of rough play.

Mr. Rubio’s even set up a “truth squad” email for voters to send their concerns about any behavior they spot.

“We will not allow Ted Cruz to do to Marco in South Carolina what he did to Ben Carson in Iowa,” said Rubio communications director Alex Conant. “Cruz has proven that he is willing to do or say anything to get elected.”

The Carson incident refers to when Cruz campaign allies spread the word that Mr. Carson was dropping out of the race as the caucuses began. Voters may have been swayed not to vote for Mr. Carson because of the rumors, other candidates have charged.

Mr. Cruz apologized in the hours afterward, but later he defended the tactics, saying his campaign was merely passing on part of a report on CNN. The original CNN report said Mr. Cruz was going to take a few days off the campaign trail after Iowa before heading to New Hampshire, where the second contest was.

The latest trick — though it’s not clear who’s behind it — is new robocall in Spanish being received by voters in South Carolina, which accuses Mr. Rubio of supporting “amnesty.”

In the call, a woman speaking Spanish says Mr. Rubio is being “dishonest” for having campaigned against amnesty in his 2010 election, then supporting it once he got to the Senate. The woman then goes on to praise Mr. Cruz, saying he supports “those of us who follow the rules.”

The call, which does not contain a disclaimer stating who’s sponsoring it, pointedly stresses the names “Marco Rubio” and “Ted Cruz” and the word “amnestia” — raising questions about who it was actually aimed at. The number of Spanish-speaking voters taking part in the GOP primary is likely to be small in South Carolina.

The Rubio campaign said it was hearing from voters who received the call, and said it blamed Mr. Cruz.

“The Cruz campaign has now gone bilingual with their false dirty tricks. But it’s yet another dirty trick that South Carolinians will see right through,” said spokesman Joe Pounder.

A Cruz spokeswoman said she hadn’t heard the recording, and said they weren’t responsible.

On Thursday, news surfaced that Mr. Cruz had created a website with an altered image appearing to show Mr. Rubio and President Obama shaking hands. The faces of the two men were actually superimposed over a stock photo of two entirely different men shaking hands.

Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Snyder said on Fox News Friday that it was no big deal.

“Every picture in a political campaign is Photoshopped,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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