Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In interview, Carson suggests campaign shake-up is coming

Dr. Ben Carson indicates major changes in an interview Wednesday morning in his Maryland home.

Associated Press

Dr. Ben Carson indicates major changes in an interview Wednesday morning in his Maryland home.

UPPERCO, Md. — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Wednesday morning he is moving toward a major shake-up of his struggling campaign, with less than six weeks to go until early voting begins to select party nominees.

Yet by Wednesday evening, he tried to steer away from that message, announcing that all is well in the Carson camp.

In a Wednesday morning interview with the Associated Press at his Maryland home — conducted without the knowledge of his own campaign manager — Carson said "personnel changes" could be coming, suggesting he would consider sidelining his top aides.

"Everything. Everything is on the table," he said of potential changes. "Every single thing is on the table. I'm looking carefully."

Carson's longtime business adviser Armstrong Williams put it more bluntly: "Dr. Carson is back in charge, and I'm so happy to see that," he said. Williams himself has publicly feuded with the paid political professionals brought in to run Carson's campaign.

Following an afternoon meeting with some of his paid advisers Wednesday — a group that did not include Williams — Carson said in a statement that while he has 100 percent confidence in his campaign team, "we are refining some operational practices and streamlining some staff assignments to more aptly match the tasks ahead."

The statement added that his senior team "remains in place with my full confidence, and they will continue to execute our campaign plan."

Campaign manager Barry Bennett was not aware of Carson's statements about potential changes until told by the Associated Press. He later texted: "No staff shake-up."

The apparent rift between Carson, Williams and the paid campaign staff comes after his weeks-long slide in polls. The political newcomer, a celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon, briefly surged to the top of the GOP field in October, riding public appeal for more anti-establishment candidates, while making headway with Christian and conservative voters.

With the spotlight came scrutiny. Carson publicly lashed out at media reports questioning details of his celebrated autobiography.

Terrorist attacks in Paris and California shifted the focus of the race to foreign policy and national security, sometimes highlighting Carson's lack of experience. Another challenge: He is soft-spoken in a race dominated by media-savvy, tough-talking figures including real estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"I certainly don't expect to get through a campaign without some scratches and bruises," Carson said. "That's the nature of the beast."

Then came the internal disarray.

Carson had raised $31 million by the end of September, more than any other Republican in the race, but he has outpaced the competition on spending, mostly on fundraising costs rather than critical political infrastructure.

"I recognize that nothing is perfect," Carson said. "And, yes, we've had enormous fundraising, but that requires that you be efficient in the way you utilize the funds. And, yes, we are looking at all those things."

Carson acknowledged that some of his difficulties were of his making.

He said he must prove to voters that he is up to the challenge to be commander in chief.

"I think I have to directly address the issue," he said, sitting in his basement game room, where the walls around him are covered in decades worth of accolades.

People think that "because you are soft-spoken and nice, you can't possibly be tough, you can't have the strength to deal with the incredible security problems we now face," Carson said. That "is not true, but I'm now talking about it."

Carson said a retooled campaign will not involve personal attacks on his Republican rivals, though he said he will look to place greater emphasis on their differences in policy and experience. He repeated his pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee if he does not win the nomination, explaining he'd respect the voters' wishes.

Besides, Carson said, he likes his opponents — including bombastic Trump.

"There isn't anybody there who is unpleasant," Carson said.

In interview, Carson suggests campaign shake-up is coming 12/23/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst

    Blogs

    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  2. Trump's political speech to Scouts inspires parental outrage

    News

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's fiery speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia has infuriated parents and former scouts.

    President Donald Trump waves to the crowd of scouts at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean,W. Va., Monday. [AP Photo/Steve Helber]
  3. Florida woman says she buried puppy in park because she couldn't afford cremation

    Public Safety

    When Ashley Duey's 6-month-old puppy was hit by a car, she was devastated.

    It took her four hours to say goodbye.

    Ashley Duey, of Polk County, is trying to raise money to have her pet cremated. She tried burying her puppy in a park, but city officials said it was against the law. (Facebook)
  4. Recycling likely to be issue between the Two Ricks

    Blogs

    When Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker go head-to-head in tonight’s televised debate, they’ll likely tangle over the city’s sewage crisis.

    Recycling, especially Rick Baker's record on opposing it while mayor, may surface in tonight's televised debate
  5. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay cooks and eats Everglades python

    Wildlife

    MIAMI — Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently joined South Florida hunters to kill, and then eat, Burmese pythons invading the Everglades, the South Florida Water Management District announced Tuesday.

    Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay and his son Jack, far right, joined South Florida Water Management District python hunter Kyle Penniston on a recent outing in western Miami-Dade County that bagged three snakes. [South Florida Water Management District]