Reports: Ted Cruz aide asked to leave campaign after publicly acknowledging error

Rick Tyler speaks toward the end of this Feb. 22, 2016, interview about his errors quoting Marco Rubio on the Bible (YouTube video).

Less than 24 hours after saying he erroneously quoted Marco Rubio making light of the Bible, a spokesman for Texan Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign reportedly was asked to step down.

CNN and other news organizations said today Cruz had asked his communications director, Rick Tyler, to resign Monday after Tyler highlighted a video that falsely depicted Marco Rubio dismissing the Bible. (Rubio, of Florida, is a practicing Roman Catholic, though he sometimes also attends an evangelical church preferred by his wife, the Miami Herald reported.)

Cruz, like Rubio a first-term senator, told reporters in Nevada that he’d spent the morning investigating what happened before making his decision. "I have made clear in this campaign we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards and integrity," Cruz said, also calling Tyler a "good man."

"This was a grave error of judgment. It turned out the news story he sent around was false but I'll tell you, even if it was true, we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate," Cruz said.

Cruz might especially be sensitive to stories reflecting on anyone's treatment of the Bible. He's made exciting and unifying evangelical voters the lynchpin of his campaign strategy. Too, as much as he benefited from that approach in winning Iowa's caucuses, Cruz drew fewer evangelical voters in South Carolina's primary than frontrunner Donald Trump, according to voter exit polls.

So, what happened with Tyler in connection with Rubio?

First, a University of Pennsylvania student newspaper posted a video and news item suggesting Rubio had approached a Bible-reading Cruz aide, Christian Collins, at a South Carolina hotel on Saturday morning and poked a little fun. As recapped by Politico, the student paper quoted Rubio suggesting the Bible did "[n]ot have many answers in it."

We watched the brief Daily Pennsylvanian video on its site and couldn’t make out precisely what Rubio said. (Cruz’s father, Rafael, is clearly seated next to Collins; Rubio didn’t talk to him.)

By the time we looked at the video at mid-afternoon today, the paper had revised its news story to remove the Rubio quotation touted by Tyler. A note preceding the revised news story says: "This article has been updated to remove a quote in the video by Marco Rubio that has been called into question, regarding the book the staffer was reading. We have replaced the video above with the raw footage without subtitles. Though our original transcription reflects what we originally heard, after reviewing the audio, we feel it is too unclear to say for sure."

Tyler got into hot water, it appears, after posting the student paper’s initial account on Facebook.

Next, Tyler followed up by deleting his post and then he followed that action, at around midnight Sunday, with this apologetic Facebook post:

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SOURCE: Rick Tyler post on Facebook (fetched 3:15 p.m. Feb. 22, 2016)

This morning, Tyler followed up in an appearance on Fox News in which he said Rubio had actually said about the Bible: "There are a lot of answers in there." Tyler added that he knew the student paper’s initial account was inaccurate because he knows the Cruz aide who was reading the Bible. Tyler added that he’d posted the cited news story in haste. "It was a mistake."

We tried to reach Tyler and didn’t immediately hear back. We also asked the Cruz campaign if it has additional information; we'll update if necessary.