MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Most presidential campaigns don't issue election day statements about how they still exist. Then again, most presidential candidates are not Dr. Ben Carson. Eight days after Carson's Iowa caucus night decision to bolt Des Moines for Florida, the campaign issued a pre-emptive assurance that the candidate was not dropping out.
"After several stops meeting with New Hampshire voters, supporters and media today, Dr. Carson will be en route to South Carolina to continue his campaign for faith, integrity and common sense leadership," said the campaign in an unsigned statement, released two hours before polls closed here. "During such a crucial campaign for America's future, it's sad to see the press more pre-occupied with dissecting the minutia of his schedule than reporting on his proposals to reinvigorate the country."
Carson's campaign put that out in expectation of a rock-bottom result in New Hampshire -- a state he barely visited -- and from an excess of caution earned in Iowa. Last week, even after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) apologized to Carson over his campaign's furthering of a rumor that Carson was quitting, the Carson campaign released voicemails that Cruz operatives had left with caucus captains.
Saturday night's debate did not quite exorcise the caucus ghosts, either; at his only post-debate news conference in New Hampshire, Cruz was asked if he was telling his campaign to "adhere to the rules" and avoid another misunderstanding that helped him at the expense of a rival.
"Our approach from the beginning has been to take the high road," Cruz said, after chuckling at the question. "I would note that when other candidates have engaged in insults, have engaged in personal attacks, we have not responded in kind. Indeed, when others go into the gutter, and toss mud, my typical response has been to sing their praises."
The Carson incident, everything from the CNN scoop about his Florida trip to Donald Trump's theory that the misunderstanding swung the election, has taken up some unexpected space in the story of 2016. On Monday, at Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) final New Hampshire rally, a volunteer who was checking in reporters said that she "didn't want to have a Ben Carson moment," before asking people if a news story in her inbox was true. She had quickly misread a satirical headline, one that claimed Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) was "ending his campaign" in order to attack Rubio full-time.
Both Christie and Carson have released schedules of South Carolina campaign events, starting later this week.