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Mich.’s Carson chair hits hopeful’s ‘elementary errors’

Detroit News staff

The Michigan state chairman of famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s presidential campaign says the Detroit native has made “very elementary errors” in his faltering bid for the White House.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said he still believes Carson is the best candidate among the remaining six Republican presidential hopefuls.

But Shirkey is publicly expressing disappointment in the Carson campaign with less than three weeks before Michigan’s March 8 presidential primary.

“I still think he’s the best candidate, but they’ve not done a good job with their campaign,” Shirkey told The News. “They’ve made some very elementary errors to maintain support. And it’s just too bad.”

Carson’s campaign was rocked in late December after 20 staffers quit and Carson fired his campaign manager and communications director. In mid-January, Carson’s national finance chairman resigned after Carson dived into how fast his campaign was burning through cash.

In debates last fall, Carson seemed unprepared for foreign policy questions, Shirkey said. Carson’s polling numbers in Iowa and nationally began to slip after foreign policy became a top issue in GOP presidential debates.

Shirkey also faults Carson’s campaign for announcing Dec. 7 that he would take a foreign affairs-centered trip to Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia. The African tour was canceled 10 days later, citing unspecified security reasons.

“People just saw through that and then they canceled it,” Shirkey said. “He’s getting bad advice.”

Strategist: Prepare for GOP convention to be battlefield

Michigan GOP political strategist John Yob predicts the July 18-21 Republican National Convention in Cleveland won’t be the usual choreographed coronation of the Grand Old Party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees in a forthcoming book titled “CHAOS.”


“Instead, they will arrive spoiling for a fight — a fight to pick the Republican nominee for president, and maybe a fight for the future of the GOP itself,” Yob writes in the book, according to excerpts provided to The Detroit News.

The rise of outsider candidates like billionaire Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – no friend of GOP leaders in Washington – and the political perseverance of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have fueled the possibility that no candidate will emerge with the 1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination outright.

“The success of the outsiders, combined with the establishment’s attempts to keep their grip on control of the party, will culminate in a messy, chaotic, contested Republican National Convention,” Yob writes. “The fight holds danger and opportunity for everyone involved. It could fragment the Republican Party for a generation, lead to the creation of a new third party, or it could lay the foundation for a new winning conservative coalition.”

The 251-page book goes on sale on Monday on

McSally to take over committee from Miller

Republican Arizona U.S. Rep. Martha McSally is taking over as chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security from Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, who is retiring at the end of the term. McSally had been set to assume the position next Congress.

Miller, who has headed the subcommittee since 2011, highlighted the panel’s work, including passage of the recent bill reforming the visa waiver program.

“I truly believe this subcommittee plays a critical role in our national defense, which is why it has been such an honor to serve as its chair and why, going forward, I believe it will continue to thrive under the leadership of Rep. Martha McSally,” Miller said in a statement.

McSally is a retired Air Force combat pilot and colonel, and, like Miller, has fought the military’s early retirement of the A-10 attack plane fleet. McSally’s district includes the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and a training facility for A-10s.

Rove: Trump tells ‘damnable lie’ on Iraq

President George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove this week was still smarting from GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s attack on the former president during Saturday’s South Carolina debate.

In answering a question from moderator John Dickerson, the New York City billionaire didn’t back away from comments he made in 2008 that he was surprised then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t try to impeach the Republican president for the Iraq war and argued that Bush “got us into the war with lies” — referring to a lack of weapons of mass destruction.

“They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none,” he said Saturday.

Rove, one of two speakers for Michigan State University’s annual Michigan Political Leadership Program fundraising dinner in Livonia next month, told The Detroit News “That itself is a damnable lie.”

The U.S. military found hundreds of degraded chemical weapon shells in Iraq, he said. An Iraq weapons commission headed by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman and former U.S. Sen. Charles Robb, D-Virginia, found the Bush administration didn’t lie about weapons of mass destruction, Rove argued.

The GOP political consultant is expected to be less combustible March 3 when he shares the Laurel Manor stage with President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election impresario Jim Messina.

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Melissa Nann Burke and Richard Burr