There are two scenarios involving the Cruz campaign, Ben Carson and CNN.
Donald Trump may be running and unconventional campaign, but Ben Carson is running a weird campaign. Before Monday, he was mostly being mocked as low-key to the point of unconsciousness with frequent gaps in his knowledge of government and world politics. I have no problem believing scenario #1 because going back to Florida for suits and up to DC for breakfast is not standard campaign practice.
If scenario #2 is true, the Cruz campaign managed to pull off a tactic with some deniability by scenario #1 being so possible. Honestly, would the absence of that “rumor” have changed the order of winners? Did that many Carson supporters totally give up because of something a Cruz supporter told them?
When it comes to most local (or Congressional) elections, the will of the people is directly expressed. smearing an opponent can easily backfire and voters have a low tolerance for dirty tricks. A presidential election won’t work that way. Two party machines are trying to control the will of over 100 million people and they take it seriously. If Trump and Carson can get rolled by one Ted Cruz state campaign, they have no chance against the DNC.
The fundamental rule still applies. Negative campaign ads work. They worked even when John McCain tried to be above it all and wouldn’t do the same stuff the Democrats did. Negative ads worked when Mitt Romney redefined his media strategy to the point where hardly any ads aired. The people of this country do not rise up against “unfair” opponents, no matter how much we’d want them to.
Political campaigns are like military campaigns. It’s war. Save the morality for peace time.