Some anti-Trumpers have already added this to the annals of “Ben Carson, worst surrogate ever,” but let’s be fair. How else was he supposed to spin Trump’s terrible answer? If you’re on Team Trump, there are two ways you can go with it. One, the Chris Christie route: Claim that Trump “misspoke,” even though he was perfectly clear in his interview with Matthews, and refuse to talk about it any further. Two, the Ben Carson route: Note that Trump, the “outsider” in the race, isn’t polished the way professional politicians like Cruz are. He speaks off the cuff. He’s going to answer inartfully sometimes. You can’t expect him to express himself perfectly on an issue he hasn’t “had a chance to really think about,” like the most basic consequences of pro-life policy as someone who’s on the brink of clinching the Republican nomination for president.
If you wanted a smooth reply to a pop quiz on Abortion 101, hey — maybe you should have given him the questions beforehand.
“Bear in mind, I don’t believe that he was warned that that question was coming, and I don’t think he really had a chance to really think about it,” Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential contender, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday.
“That happens very frequently, and you know, what you develop with experience is how to answer that in a way that is not definitive,” Carson said. “You know how politicians are. He has not really learned that — he’s not a politician.”…
Carson, who has endorsed Trump, said that after that interview, Trump had time to huddle with his advisers and “come up with a more rational and informed type of answer.”
I said yesterday that you can understand how Trump arrived at his answer even if you don’t agree with it. A newbie to the issue (which is what he is, let’s face it) might understandably reason that if (1) abortion is made illegal, and (2) a pregnant woman volunteers for an abortion, then (3) she should expect criminal consequences for solicitation to commit abortion. That’s not at all how stalwart pro-lifers approach the issue, as Carson himself makes clear in the clip, but for a guy like Trump who was probably thinking this through for the first time in his life, it’s not out of left field. (Good luck using that defense this fall when Hillary pummels him with it, though.) Explain to me his answer in the second clip below, though, from the same townhall with Matthews. Here they’re talking about a policy that Trump himself proposed, the temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. from abroad. I have very rich Muslim friends who call me wanting to talk about it, Trump says. What about them, asks Matthews? How will they feel about not being able to visit America anymore? Well, says Trump, there’ll be exceptions to the policy. Which is … kind of a big deal given how popular this proposal has been with voters. How many exceptions will there be? Is it just for President Trump’s rich friends or will it be for broader classes of Muslims? This is his signature counterterrorism policy and he’s casually floating the idea of unspecified carve-outs for special classes of Muslims, almost as an afterthought, in casual conversation. What’s the excuse for not having thought that through very clearly until now?