Is Ben Carson’s campaign imploding?

posted at 4:01 pm on June 6, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

Having watched more than a few of these campaigns unfold, I would venture to say that when you see a presidential primary team abandoning ship it’s usually because the campaign is beginning to look like a lost cause and the staff is still hoping to catch on with somebody who has a better chance. But that’s not the case with Ben Carson’s bid. The poll of polls still has the popular neurosurgeon within two points of Bush, Walker and Rubio and the freshest Fox News survey has him in a statistical tie for the lead. That’s what makes the latest Carson news so surprising. The major part of the staff at the top of his campaign team has walked out to go work with Super PACs or simply seeking greener pastures.

The presidential candidacy of Ben Carson, a tea party star who has catapulted into the top tier of Republican contenders, has been rocked by turmoil with the departures of four senior campaign officials and widespread disarray among his allied super PACs.

In interviews Friday, Carson’s associates described a political network in tumult, saying the retired neurosurgeon’s campaign chairman, national finance chairman, deputy campaign manager and general counsel have resigned since Carson formally launched his bid last month in Detroit. They have not been replaced, campaign aides said.

The moves gutted the core of Carson’s apparatus and left the 63-year-old first-time candidate with only a handful of experienced advisers at his side as he navigates the fluid, crowded and high-stakes contest for the Republican nomination.

There have been questions swirling around the Super PACs supporting Carson since the beginning. We got into a lot of those controversies when Doug and I interviewed John Philip Sousa IV, head of Run Ben Run, on Politinerds back in January. Both that PAC and Carson’s remaining staff insist that there’s still no friction between Run Ben Run and the candidate, though issues regarding fundraising and expenditures remain.

The separate question here is why the core staffing team would leave, particularly if they plan on supporting Carson from the outside. Why do that when you can be in the heat of the action right there with the candidate? The answers coming from Armstrong Williams – the remaining campaign manager who is now pretty much running things single handed from the top – aren’t very comforting. Williams provided a few comments for the WaPo article above which should give pause (at a minimum) to any of Carson’s supporters around the country. (Emphasis added)

Williams portrayed Carson as a candidate who is still learning the nuances of politics. He said Carson is studying up on issues and is uninterested in campaign mechanics.

On the road, Carson receives hearty receptions, but his acquaintances said he is most content after public events to retreat to a pool table, where he touts the hand-eye coordination that made him a renowned surgeon. He also likes to do brain teasers or play golf.

Carson occasionally drops by his Alexandria campaign headquarters, but his main interaction with staffers is just once a week, at 10 a.m. on Sundays, when he participates in a conference call to go over his schedule for the coming week.

Dr. Carson doesn’t get involved in the minutia,” Williams said. “You have to understand his personality. He’s informed, but this whole process is new to him, and he’s relying on the judgment of others.”

Williams is probably the man most on the inside of Carson Central and has been a close associate for a very long time. To hear those comments coming directly from him, as opposed to some unnamed “person with knowledge of the situation” on background, is beyond disturbing. It paints a portrait of someone who may be principled, brilliant and hold a great deal of potential but who is absolutely not engaged in the ugly business of running a national campaign.

It may be distasteful to think of things this way, but there are two nearly unrelated skill sets required to be President of the United States. The obvious ones we hope for are all the hallmarks of a great, decisive leader and problem solver. They need not be listed yet again here. But in order to ever have the chance to exercise those abilities, the candidate must also be a skilled politician and have the ability to create and manage a complex campaign team and strategy. You don’t get to rule unless you can win the election.

When one of Carson’s closest people is describing him as being uninterested in campaign mechanics when he occasionally drops by the headquarters, there is plenty to worry about. One conference call per week dialed into by a guy who largely relies on the judgement of others is not the formula for winning a battle of this magnitude, nor does it speak very highly of Carson’s management style and suitability to build a competent cabinet and White House staff.

Ben Carson may think he can largely cruise through the summer and not worry about staffing until closer to the first primary, but the race has already begun. If the description provided by Armstrong Williams is even remotely close to the reality inside Carson HQ, it’s really not that much of a mystery why the experienced staffers would be bailing out. This is starting to sound like a disaster waiting to happen.


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Comments

If you call him lazy that’s racist! Oh wait, he’s a black conservative never mind.

Xanatos90 on June 6, 2015 at 4:08 PM

What is so surprising? He’s a surgeon with an ego that rivals anyone’s most likely and being a governor isn’t good enough and being a senator isn’t good enough and only President will do as an entry level position and of course don’t bother him with little things like how the campaign is run

Marcus on June 6, 2015 at 4:09 PM

It’s been a disaster waiting to happen since day one, unfortunately. Someone that green needs a team that is the opposite. instead its so green on green that it should be in my house (cuz I like the color)

Richard Bushnell on June 6, 2015 at 4:11 PM

It must be personal dissatisfaction, as implied.

It’s strange to think that staffers who would abandon a candidate because he can’t win would sign on with Carson in the first place. He was never going to be a serious contender, even in a much smaller field.

TimesUp on June 6, 2015 at 4:14 PM

This can’t go away fast enough. Think of all the nice fires people could build with their money as opposed to sending it down the rat hole of this guy’s unrealistic presidential aspirations. We have enough joke candidacies from people who actually know something about running the government so we don’t really need someone showing up for amateur hour on top of all that. Good riddance.

alchemist19 on June 6, 2015 at 4:21 PM

You don’t get to rule unless you can win the election.

I must not have gotten the memo.

When did Americans elect ‘rulers?’

Oh, there was 2008…

Nevermind.

Corporal Tunnel on June 6, 2015 at 4:32 PM

How can nothing implode?

DarkCurrent on June 6, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Is Ben Carson’s campaign imploding?

He’s not 100% on board with the homo-agenda. Of course his campaign is imploding.

TheMadHessian on June 6, 2015 at 4:39 PM

Well…Dr. Carson can always get a radio show…

In other news…

Good Story about a good cause happening today on the anniversary of D-Day

“After I told the Governor about Taylor Morris, he explained he’d be out in Iowa near Taylor’s home in Cedar Falls on the 19th and would love to visit Taylor if it was okay with him?

I called Taylor and asked if he still had that bike and was “putting oil in it n’ stuff.” I explained to him the Governor had a big charity ride for veterans in June.

“Of course. Can he ride? It’s a fast bike, John.”

“I’m pretty sure he can, I dunno…”

Read more at http://thechive.com/2015/05/21/governor-rick-perry-an-american-hero-and-a-harley-22-photos/#jQT2jmsjEjfdkEBd.99

“All money raised will benefit the Puppy Jake Foundation, pairing injured military veterans with professionally trained service dogs. You can be a Republican, Democrat, Independent – doesn’t matter.” – linked article

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 4:43 PM

I think the first chink in his armor was when he stated his position on the 2nd was..”Weell I don’t really think you need a gun unless you live in the country and there are dangerous animals around.”
Well Ben..there are dangerous animals in the cities. They’re called street thugs and gang members.

Mimzey on June 6, 2015 at 4:45 PM

TheMadHessian on June 6, 2015 at 4:39 PM

Just can’t help yourself, can you? GAY say it all day.

alchemist19 on June 6, 2015 at 4:21 PM

+++
If you ain’t in it to win it, don’t waste my time or $.

bazil9 on June 6, 2015 at 4:46 PM

He may be the best horse in the race, but if the gate goes up and he’s wandering around a nearby field, munching on the grass, he’s not going to win.

LashRambo on June 6, 2015 at 4:46 PM

Carson is a nice guy who has good intentions, but that’s just not enough.

I don’t understand why anyone is enthusiastic about him and his chances. He’s just not savvy enough to handle a national campaign. Period.

JannyMae on June 6, 2015 at 4:48 PM

On the road, Carson receives hearty receptions, but his acquaintances said he is most content after public events to retreat to a pool table, where he touts the hand-eye coordination that made him a renowned surgeon. He also likes to do brain teasers or play golf.

Carson occasionally drops by his Alexandria campaign headquarters, but his main interaction with staffers is just once a week, at 10 a.m. on Sundays, when he participates in a conference call to go over his schedule for the coming week.

It sounds like Carson’s not actually interested in becoming president. He wants the fame and attention of a candidate, but he doesn’t want the responsibility or work that comes with actually pursuing the office.

The guy’s viable in polling for 2 reasons:

1.) He can sound hypnotically ethereal sans substance (apart from sounding like an inoffensive guy who says that he’s willing to debate and hear people out, does he ever say anything?), and

2.) People want to glom onto him as the conservative black guy and answer to Obama.

Carson gives a poor stump speech, so his only hope to actually secure the nomination is that his sleep-inducing tone at debates is enough to make him seem like the “reasonable” one in the room. I suspect that his support is going to come mostly from the 65 and over crowd, because there just isn’t the fire in the belly or life in the eyes to stir up anyone younger.

Stoic Patriot on June 6, 2015 at 4:49 PM

Please Carson supporters, throw your support behind another candidate like Cruz or Walker or Perry or whoever.

Jack_Burton on June 6, 2015 at 4:53 PM

Carson isn’t going to win, but I find him less annoying than Huckabee.

I don’t even really think that Huckabee’s policies are all that horrible, he claims to be against the TPP, for example, I just don’t like his sappy televangelist style.

Carson also talks to the audience like they are third-graders, natural coming from a pediatrician I suppose but it is a very annoying trait among Republican politicians.

Redstone on June 6, 2015 at 4:54 PM

Please Carson supporters, throw your support behind another candidate like Cruz or Walker or Perry or whoever

Walker is a life long politician who has accomplished nothing in his life but pander to voters. Both he and Perry are liberals who masquerade for votes.

Cruz & Carson are the best candidates. Cruz will have to overcome a bit of a likability gap & Carson will have to overcome not being a politician.

Cpaguy on June 6, 2015 at 5:00 PM

The guy with zero experience running for any office on any level camping’s imploding.

Get out of here.

swamp_yankee on June 6, 2015 at 5:02 PM

Cruz & Carson are the best candidates. Cruz will have to overcome a bit of a likability gap & Carson will have to overcome not being a politician.

Cpaguy on June 6, 2015 at 5:00 PM

May I ask your reasoning for believing Carson is the best candidate or would be the president we need?

bazil9 on June 6, 2015 at 5:04 PM

bazil9 on June 6, 2015 at 4:46 PM

Everybody loves Ben.

TheMadHessian on June 6, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Please Carson supporters, throw your support behind another candidate like Cruz or Walker or Perry or whoever.

Jack_Burton on June 6, 2015 at 4:53 PM

Good Advice.

TheMadHessian on June 6, 2015 at 5:08 PM

Jack_Burton on June 6, 2015 at 4:53 PM

I’ve been waiting on Jindal. I’ll get my wish soon. :)

bazil9 on June 6, 2015 at 5:11 PM

Despite all the whining from the losers who claim the GOP Establishment picks the candidate, the Primary determines who is potentially Presidential and who is not.

Basilsbest on June 6, 2015 at 5:14 PM

Jindal is easily the best candidate.

Basilsbest on June 6, 2015 at 5:15 PM

hopefully it goes under quick. he’s sucking away support that could go to someone actually conservative.

chasdal on June 6, 2015 at 5:21 PM

Jindal is easily the best candidate.

Basilsbest on June 6, 2015 at 5:15 PM

not easily, but he’s a very viable choice and I would hate to see him or some of the other serious candidates not be able to get their message out due to vanity candidates taking up bandwidth for stupid slogans like “9-9-9”.

chasdal on June 6, 2015 at 5:22 PM

POTUS is not an entry level position.

myiq2xu on June 6, 2015 at 5:28 PM

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 4:43 PM

+ 100..Excellent..:)

PS..We could sure use your help and anyone else that is interested..We have a Holocaust Denier on the Overlord Thread..:)

Dire Straits on June 6, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Ben Carson reminds me a lot of Mahatma Ghandi….a great soul. The country needs great souls near to power as The Mahatma was in his time, they can do more from the outside than from the inside and they can keep their hands clean at the same time. I like Cruz I like Jindal….I think either of them can get in there and figuratively strangle a man who has put a political gun to their heads as is occasionally necessary in this hyperfractious pseudosanctimonious quasiHuxleyian ultrajudgemental world….those two can do both the clean work and the necessary dirty work to win, as could Abraham Lincoln. Furthermore I don’t think the nation is quite ready to elect two black men in a row to the presidency, there are too many other possibilities in queue…the first hispanic, the first woman, the first libertarian

clandestine on June 6, 2015 at 5:36 PM

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 4:43 PM

+ 100..Excellent..:)

PS..We could sure use your help and anyone else that is interested..We have a Holocaust Denier on the Overlord Thread..:)

Dire Straits on June 6, 2015 at 5:32 PM

HA!

Twitchy’s got good coverage of the Roast & Ride event…looks like they had some fun.

Walker vs. Perry on a scooter…

https://twitter.com/soopermexican

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 5:44 PM

The first Indo-American, but Jindal would without hesitation deny that he is anything but American. And he is.

Basilsbest on June 6, 2015 at 5:44 PM

check out this headline…

Jeb Bush Facing Crucial Two-Week Stretch

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-06-05/jeb-bush-facing-crucial-two-week-stretch

Sheeesh!

Don’t the driveby’s know this race isn’t a rebel race until Trump jumps in?

*blech*

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 5:49 PM

I hate spell check…It is evil and sneaky

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 5:51 PM

Jindal is easily the best candidate.

Basilsbest on June 6, 2015 at 5:15 PM

not easily, but he’s a very viable choice and I would hate to see him or some of the other serious candidates not be able to get their message out due to vanity candidates taking up bandwidth for stupid slogans like “9-9-9″.

chasdal on June 6, 2015 at 5:22 PM

Agreed.

Truth is there are some good competitors in this primary.

workingclass artist on June 6, 2015 at 5:53 PM

clandestine on June 6, 2015 at 5:36 PM

The infatuation with political “firsts” is a poor method of choosing leaders.

I liked your comparison. Carson does have a great soul. His comments on ACA before Obama were spot on and insightful. In most other issues, he seems out of his depth.

J.B. Say on June 6, 2015 at 5:54 PM

Cruz/Carson

fight like a girl on June 6, 2015 at 6:20 PM

Buh bye

cmsinaz on June 6, 2015 at 6:36 PM

HHS secretary

cmsinaz on June 6, 2015 at 6:37 PM

Is Ben Carson’s campaign imploding?

Does it matter? He never had a chance to begin with, now did he…..be honest. No, he didn’t. That’s part of the problem with American government and politics.

I should be able to run for president and have just as much chance as those shitheaded kkklintons and booshes. Everybody should.

That needs to change, especially in today’s world where news can flash across the country at the speed of light. There is no excuse for this.

Andy__B on June 6, 2015 at 6:59 PM

HHS secretary

cmsinaz on June 6, 2015 at 6:37 PM

…agreed!

JugEarsButtHurt on June 6, 2015 at 7:21 PM

A great man, but a political prima donna.

BushyGreen on June 6, 2015 at 7:43 PM

He’s trying to leapfrog and that’s not reasonable.

He should run for governor or mayor or congressman or senator. Something. You don’t go right from the private sector into the white house.

This guy is asking for too much. This wasn’t acceptable for Ross Perot and similar characters and it isn’t acceptable for Ben.

Karmashock on June 6, 2015 at 8:22 PM

Walker is a life long politician who has accomplished nothing in his life but pander to voters.

Cpaguy on June 6, 2015 at 5:00 PM

That are a lot of taxpayers in Wisconsin, and a lot of former public union members, who would like to disagree with you.

Athanasius on June 6, 2015 at 8:45 PM

Is he that 9-9-9 pizza guy?

Galtian on June 6, 2015 at 9:00 PM

That are a lot of taxpayers in Wisconsin, and a lot of former public union members, who would like to disagree with you.

Athanasius on June 6, 2015 at 8:45 PM

So what has he done besides be a politician? Could he support his family if he wasn’t a politician?

Cpaguy on June 6, 2015 at 9:38 PM

It is unclear why Carson is running, or what he is trying to accomplish.

Pork-Chop on June 6, 2015 at 9:50 PM

I expected his campaign to start falling apart in the fall after the start of the debates. Carson seems to have announced for president without having thought through some of the basic questions any candidate should expect to have to answer.

To contrast him with Carly Fiorina, she comes across in her interviews as informed and poised. She also has at least run for something, and she did well, though she didn’t win. I don’t think she’ll get the nomination, but I think she might be a VP contender, and if not, certainly a force this campaign cycle.

The Bringer on June 6, 2015 at 11:35 PM

Terry Giles is a smart guy and his departure was part of a plan (I got an email penned by Giles today opining on what a mendacious story Costa wrote in the WaPo). Some of us welcome crony departures so a staff with experience in victory (I know…) can take over.

ElRonaldo on June 7, 2015 at 2:04 AM

I don’t know why cons go through this silly flavor of the month exercise every 4 years. Gary Bauer, Cruz, Carson, Cain; none of these people could ever win a general election. They would be lucky to hold Goldwaters states.

cimbri on June 7, 2015 at 4:09 AM

Jindal is easily the best candidate.

Basilsbest on June 6, 2015 at 5:15 PM

I don’t know about that, but he is the best leader.

As for Dr. Carson — I watched him blow his nose and his head collapsed. . . .

Younggod on June 7, 2015 at 6:57 AM

When Carson’s supporters finally wake up and realize he’s a f–king joke, they will have to back someone else. It will be interesting to see if they move as a block or if they scatter.

My money says they will back Walker, Cruz, or Jindal.

I don’t know why cons go through this silly flavor of the month exercise every 4 years. Gary Bauer, Cruz, Carson, Cain; none of these people could ever win a general election. They would be lucky to hold Goldwaters states.

cimbri on June 7, 2015 at 4:09 AM

You omit Carly but include Cruz?

Oh wait, she’s much more credible than Cruz because she made fun of Seth Meyers. Right?

Carson and Carly are the Cain and Bachmann of 2016.

Ted the Average on June 7, 2015 at 7:50 AM

There are two ways to view this and you can do both at the same time:

1. Carson is not ready.
2. A lot of these campaign managers, advisers, are useless hacks wanting money.

This is where Walker has such an advantage over all the other main candidates at this point. He has seen both ends of being a candidate, from walking about knocking on thousands of doors to running the big show at the top as a governor. That ability to know what campaigning is all about, to his GOTV operations in Wisconsin, and his ability to learn from past defeats makes him in my opinion the most experienced and battle hardened choice.

I am not saying he is the most charismatic (Note: he is lot better than Romney on the stump), but in terms of operating and using a machine to win none is better in the GOP field. Perry is good at that too, but in Texas it is a lot easier for a Republican to win. Walker had to do it in Wisconsin…aka “Labor Union Central”.

William Eaton on June 7, 2015 at 8:51 AM

The moves gutted the core of Carson’s apparatus and left the 63-year-old first-time candidate with only a handful of experienced advisers at his side as he navigates the fluid, crowded and high-stakes contest for the Republican nomination.

There is another thread this morning, “Nanny of the month….”, which bemoans the influence big business exerts on government to gain advantage over small business innovation. Sounds to me like the same thing is happening to the political business.

Good thing/bad thing???

cottontail on June 7, 2015 at 9:51 AM

Jazz Shaw: When are you going to print a retraction?

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/06/exclusive-ben-carson-dismisses-campaign-turmoil-allegations-as-yellow-journalism/

Cpaguy on June 6, 2015 at 9:54 PM

Thank you, Cpaguy. That’s a helpful link.

Jazz’s argument is this:

1) Carson’s campaign staff seems suddenly to be “jumping ship.”
2) The explanation for this seems to be that Carson isn’t interested in the minutiae of campaigns since he’s more a big picture guy.

Carson’s campaign staff appears all at once to be gravitating towards Super PACs, but that doesn’t make sense (writes Jazz) because if you are committed to a campaign, you should want to be right “in the heat” of it, not on the outside.

What Jazz neglects to mention is that due to campaign finance restrictions, Super PACs have extraordinary power these days. Super PACs have no spending restrictions like campaigns do. Super PACs are where much of the action is these days. (Thank you McCain!)

But if you are involved in a Super PAC, you can’t be formally connected to an actual campaign or you will be accused of violating these supposed conflict-of- interest restrictions. It’s all very hypocritical, but, you know, that’s how liberalism works.

So these members of the staff all went to work on Super PACs, and all of this, according to Carson, is according to plan. But Jazz finds all of this fishy and says there are still “issues” about the way Super PACs are connected with the Carson campaign.

Hot Air readers are going to have to sort all this out and decide for themselves whether this sort of rumor-mongering here originating with the Washington Post and repeated by Jazz is a kind of slimy “yellow journalism” as Carson charges, or whether Jazz is a noble truth crusader interested in providing readers with enlightened views matching his own.

By the way, don’t hold your breath waiting for a retraction, Cpaguy.

Burke on June 7, 2015 at 10:27 AM

If Carson’s campaign is imploding, why are these people leaving to join Super Pacs supporting Ben Carson? You would think they would be jumping ship to support other campaigns. Smells like a hatchet job to me. . . You can tell who the HotAir bloggers support just by watching their posts. If they do not challenge “journalistic masterpieces” by leading “conservative newspapers” like the Washington Post and New York Times, you know that those candidates are the blogger’s hit lists.

nitram on June 7, 2015 at 10:57 AM

“Therefore, I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations” for 30 percent ethanol blends, he added.


Said Ben Carson
. I like him, he has some good ideas. But based on that statement, and his vacillating on gun control, he is out of the question for me.

He’d make a fine surgeon general, or head of HHS.

iurockhead on June 7, 2015 at 11:04 AM

You would think they would be jumping ship to support other campaigns.

nitram on June 7, 2015 at 10:57 AM

Yes, you would think so, wouldn’t you?

To his credit, though, Jazz explains why this isn’t happening. It’s because Carson relaxes by playing pool. Or something. I don’t know if I followed that part of his argument. The main thing is that his campaign is imploding (even though in the last poll I saw he was tied for first place).

Burke on June 7, 2015 at 11:22 AM

He’s a novice politician. Someone should have told him. It ain’t bean bag.

steveracer on June 7, 2015 at 4:41 PM

Carson did a great job in Baltimore when he was interviewed about the problems there. He definitely has some compelling attributes but running for president requires huge organizational skills. One thing I like about him over Cruz and maybe some of the other socons; he doesn’t appear to be bought off by Mr. Big, at least not yet.

cimbri on June 7, 2015 at 9:20 PM