Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Monday asked his communications director Rick Tyler to resign, after Tyler distributed a video that falsely depicted another candidate, Marco Rubio, dismissing the Bible, CNN reported.
The incident comes a day before the Nevada Republican caucuses and in the wake of accusations from rival campaigns in recent weeks about Cruz's campaign tactics.
Donald Trump has called Cruz a "liar" and Rubio and Ben Carson have also blasted the Texas senator, noted CNN.
Trump, Rubio and Carson have all attacked Cruz for his ethics ever since Cruz's victory in Iowa. Cruz later underperformed in South Carolina two contests later.
Cruz said he spent the morning investigating what happened before making his decision. Campaign manager Jeff Roe confirmed that Tyler had formally resigned.
"I have made clear in this campaign we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards and integrity," Cruz told reporters Monday.
"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 added, according to CNN.
A former, longtime spokesman for Newt Gingrich, Tyler was a senior aide and one of the Cruz campaign's first hires in the run-up to his presidential announcement. He apologized late Sunday for the incident.
"I want to apologize to Sen. Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today," said Tyler, the spokesman, wrote in a Facebook post.
The incident comes after an earlier embarrassment for the Cruz campaign resulting from an endorsement from evangelical Pastor Mike Bickle, whose statements regarding Biblical prophecies about the persecution of Jews aroused the ire of some Jewish leaders.
Cruz’s campaign had to go on the defensive following the endorsement, with Cruz’s senior noting that Bickle is “only one of the hundreds who have endorsed us” and stressing Cruz’s record on Israel and his close ties with the American Jewish community.
Meanwhile on Monday, Trump immediately sought to capitalize on the Tyler incident, tweeting, "Wow, Ted Cruz falsely suggested Marco Rubio mocked the Bible and was just forced to fire his Communications Director. More dirty tricks!".
Rubio's campaign similarly rubbed salt in the wound, noted CNN, praising Tyler's skills but saying he "had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected."
The story mentioned by Tyler was about a video that shows Rubio walking into a hotel lobby past Cruz's father Rafael and a staffer reading the Bible, and subtitles in the video misquote Rubio as saying, "Got a good book there, not many answers in it."
In a corrected version of the video tweeted by Rubio's communications director, Alex Conant, the subtitles quote Rubio saying, "Got a good book there, all the answers are in there."
Rubio said on Monday he accepts Tyler's apology, but called for the Cruz campaign to hold someone accountable.
The flub by the Cruz campaign comes after Rubio finished narrowly ahead of Cruz for second place in the South Carolina primary Saturday, behind Donald Trump. In the heated contest there, the Cruz campaign was repeatedly accused by both Rubio and Trump for being dishonest and engaging in dirty tactics.
Trump had also accused Cruz of “stealing” the Iowa caucuses after Cruz defeated Trump in that state.