Naomi Proberts from Independence, Iowa was ready to promote Dr. Ben Carson at her local precinct last Monday. Naomi had met Dr. Carson and was a huge fan. But before she could speak out on Dr. Carson’s behalf to the caucus a Ted Cruz supporter announced that Carson had quit the race.
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This was something new for Naomi Probert: Stand in front of a crowd of 500 people and tell them why she feels someone should be elected president of the United States.
The married mother of adopted Haitian children ages 5 and 6 found one candidate spoke to her heart: Dr. Ben Carson.
She and her family met Carson, personally, a day earlier in Manchester. The experience only reinforced her support for him.
So much so, she was willing to speak on his behalf at her Republican precinct caucus Monday night at Independence High School. In fact, her kids helped hand out literature for him. Supporting Carson was, for the Proberts, a family affair.
“I’d never done anything like this before,” she said. “I felt really passionate about Dr. Carson. We were inspired by Dr. Carson’s story. I volunteered to talk for him. And you get all revved up to speak to 500 people.”
Then, the unthinkable happened.
A lady who had just checked her smart phone said the campaign of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz “just informed us that there’s a CNN story that he (Carson) is out of the race and he’s endorsed (Sen. Ted) Cruz,” Probert related. She had already risen to speak.
“There was a gasp in the audience,” Probert related. “I was just devastated. I got emotional. I said, ‘My husband and I live here in Independence with our two Haitian children. We were inspired by Dr. Carson’s story…'”
That was as far as she got. Overcome by emotion, she sat down.
She and her husband, Stephen, got on their smartphones to find the story in question. They didn’t. “We said, ‘This isn’t true. We were duped.â€™” The report said Carson was going home â€œfor a fresh suit of clothes” the day after the caucuses instead of heading straight to New Hampshire – not that he was dropping out of the race. But it triggered speculation.
“It was a complete fabrication. He didn’t endorse anyone,” Probert said. She and her husband knew if Carson was withdrawing, he would say so directly to his supporters. She asked to finish her remarks.
“They allowed me to do that,” Probert said. “I don’t know if the damage had been done,” – if the initial, incorrect announcement had swayed anyone.
“My speculation was that it was a media-driven thing, but I wasn’t sure,” Probert said.
Cruz, a day after the caucuses, apologized for what ultimately was attributed to a misinterpretation of Carson’s statements to CNN about taking a break after Iowa. A subsequent CNN report and local Republican officials noted U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Cruz state campaign chair, had retweeted the incorrect information.
“I would say, being he (Carson) isn’t a career politician, he probably doesn’t calculate all of his statements” and how they might be used against him, Probert said.
“Dr. Carson accepted the apology” by Cruz. “In that sense, it’s kind of been taken care of,” Probert said. But Carson also called for accountability in several interviews. A Carson campaign email Thursday bearing a subject line “Dirty tricks?” said that, while some CNN commentators shared blame for “openly speculating” Carson was calling it quits, “it is unacceptable that Cruz’s campaign would dishonestly twist and distort the CNN report to manipulate Carson supporters into switching their caucus vote at the last minute.”