Nevada caucus: Ted Cruz claims firing his spokesman shows his is the only honourable campaign

Mr Cruz touted Rick Tyler’s exit as evidence that his was the only major campaign acting honourably in the rough-and-tumble race to the Republican nomination

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has demanded the resignation of his presidential campaign’s national spokesman, Rick Tyler, after Mr Tyler tweeted a video purporting to show Mr Cruz’s rival Marco Rubio cracking a joke about the Bible. The video turned out to be false, and Mr Tyler later deleted his tweet, but too late to avoid accusations of dirty tricks – and too late to save his job, as Mr Cruz tried to swerve any potential political potholes ahead of Tuesday’s Republican caucuses in Nevada.

The clip in question shows Mr Rubio walking into a hotel lobby where Mr Cruz’s father, pastor Rafael Cruz, is reading the Bible with another campaign staffer. The subtitles, reportedly added by a college newspaper, misquoted Mr Rubio as saying: “Got a good book there, not many answers in it.” In fact, the Rubio campaign pointed out, the Florida Senator had said the Bible contained “all the answers.”

At a press conference in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon, Mr Cruz acknowledged that his campaign “should not have sent” the video, saying: “That’s why I’ve asked for Rick Tyler’s resignation.”

Mr Cruz touted Mr Tyler’s exit as evidence that his was the only major campaign acting honourably in the rough-and-tumble race to the Republican nomination. “I had made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity,” the Texas Senator went on. “None of you have heard me throw the kind of insults at Marco Rubio that he throws at me every single day. If other candidates choose to go into the gutter, we will not do the same.”

The Rubio, Trump and Carson campaigns have all called Mr Cruz’s ethics into question in recent weeks, with GOP front-runner Donald Trump describing his ultra-conservative rival as the “biggest liar in politics.” The Rubio campaign said Mr Cruz was “willing to do or say anything to get elected.” But Mr Cruz accused both Mr Rubio and Mr Trump of relying on “utter fabrications” in their attacks on him, claiming his competitors all “scream ‘liar, liar, liar’ rather than discuss substance.”

Mr Cruz, who came a disappointing third in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, behind Mr Trump and Mr Rubio, has tweaked his message to appeal to prospective Republican voters in Nevada, which is still climbing out of its economic slump more slowly than the rest of the US. During a rally at a community gymnasium in North Las Vegas, he described illegal immigration as “a powerful anchor”, dragging down wages in the troubled Silver State.

He has also vowed, as President, to return the 85 per cent of Nevada owned by the US government to “the people of Nevada”. The government owns vast swathes of the West, to the anger of anti-government activists, such as those who took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon last month.

While he condemned the occupation, Mr Cruz has aligned himself with the cause, and he was heckled for that position by protesters during the Las Vegas rally. One of the protesters was Melissa Peterson, 36, the president of the Las Vegas contemporary arts centre, who was booed from the room by Cruz supporters.

“I love my public lands,” Ms Peterson said afterwards. “Ted Cruz has said if he’s elected President he’s going to turn over our national monuments to the state of Nevada, and I know my state – we don’t have the resources to properly manage them, and they’ll be sold off for private development and mining. I do not want to be a Nevadan whose state is for sale.”

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