After shake-up vow, GOP’s Carson said campaign is well
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, the Detroit native 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.”
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.
He said he must prove to voters that he is up to the challenge to be commander-in-chief.
Carson said he plans to put emphasis on his strategy for Libya when he returns to the trail after Christmas.
He maintains that too many U.S. leaders, including some of his GOP rivals, have zeroed in on the Islamic State group’s activities in Iraq and Syria, while failing to acknowledge that they pose a threat beyond those borders.
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.
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