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Falwell records robo-call for Trump, bashing Cruz "tricks"
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Falwell records robo-call for Trump, bashing Cruz "tricks"

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. condemned Sen. Ted Cruz for “tricks” in a robo-call this weekend urging people to support real estate tycoon Donald Trump.

The call sent to Lynchburg-area telephones over the weekend came just days before the Republican and Democratic primary season hits the pivot point of Super Tuesday. Virginia is one of about a dozen states holding primaries or caucuses today.

“What Sen. Ted Cruz did to Ben Carson when he thought no one was looking was not just a dirty trick, it was a dirty trick pulled by a master politician. I’m happy to stand against these dirty tricks,” Falwell’s recording said of the Texas senator.

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment and the range of the robo-call was unavailable on Monday.

Falwell, who recorded for the Trump campaign, said in an interview Monday he was referring to actions the Cruz campaign took before the Iowa caucuses. The Cruz campaign contacted precinct captains saying Carson was suspending his campaign, The Des Moines Register reported. Cruz won Iowa and said the report came from CNN. He apologized for not sending a follow-up statement.

Tim Boyer, the volunteer Cruz campaign coordinator for Campbell County, took issue with Falwell’s timing to maximize his endorsement for Trump.

“Basically, it was a big non-story that was blown up into a big story,” Boyer said. “If Jerry Falwell doesn’t know these facts, then my opinion is he should have bothered to get himself better information before he took a shot on another brother in Christ."

Falwell also referred to mailers sent out in Iowa by the Cruz campaign. The mailers used the phrase “voting violation,” and urged those who received one to “caucus on Monday and improve your score,” The Washington Post reported.

“They just asked me to say a few words for some calls they were sending out, so that’s what I did,” Falwell said Monday.

Speaking to The News & Advance, Jerry Falwell Jr. said he personally endorsed Donald Trump for president of the United States in part because the country needs a business leader with a proven track record outside of politics.

Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, and Cruz’s Virginia state chairman, responded to the ad saying Falwell, “who’s a good man” is reading from a script.

“Donald Trump is pulling the biggest trick on the American people that there possibly can be by claiming to be a Republican and a conservative. That trick involves playing to the emotional needs of a nation who’s craving change and a political structure that serves the people and not the other way around,” Stanley said in an interview in Richmond Monday.

The accusations by the relaxed-sounding Falwell seemed gentle compared to insults waged among candidates this week, including volleys about appearance and hygiene between Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

Falwell says his personal endorsement of Trump — instead of Cruz, who he said claims to represent conservative Christian ideals — is no different than his father’s support for California governor and divorced Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan over Sunday school teacher and incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election.

“You know I believe the reason that more evangelicals are supporting Trump than other candidates, the very reason they are evangelical Christians to begin with, is they believe all of us are sinners,” Falwell said. “They don’t see Mr. Trump as any different than the rest of us.”

The campaign has been marked with rumbling among the U.S. electorate desiring for some sort of change in Washington D.C. Trump has harnessed that energy in the Republican field, although Cruz made a name for himself as a disruptor in Washington. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has ridden an outsider persona on the left to a lesser degree in competition with former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton.

“I think it’s one of the strangest presidential political seasons we’ve ever had on record where it seems to be a free-for-all of endorsements, that when you look at them all a little more closely, just don’t make sense, understanding who the person is in comparison to who they’re endorsing,” Stanley said of the Republican race.

Contact Alex Rohr at arohr@newsadvance.com. Find him on Twitter: @arohr_reporter

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