Ben Carson Loses Top Campaign Advisers In Shakeup

Further signs that Ben Carson's Presidential campaign, which has been in a death spiral in the polls for some time now, is in real trouble,

Ben Carson Profile

Ben Carson’s campaign troubles continued on the last day of 2015 as two of his top campaign advisers abruptly resigned, raising questions about just how much longer the retired neurosurgeon’s campaign can continue:

Ben Carson’s campaign manager and top communications aide resigned on Thursday, throwing the retired neurosurgeon’s presidential run into chaos, with conflicting reports emerging about who will take over the struggling operation.

Campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts both resigned, effective immediately, after weeks of speculation about a shakeup. Carson last week indicated such a move, saying that “everything” was “on the table” as far as changes with his campaign, though he later walked that back and said, “I think the people that I have are spectacular.

Armstrong Williams, a close Carson confidant, told POLITICO he expects Bennett’s replacement to be General Robert Dees, a top foreign policy adviser.

“General Dees is going to run the organization,” Williams said, rejecting reports that veteran political adviser Ed Brookover would be taking over. “Brookover’s a good guy. Very responsive, people like him … You have no idea what General Dees is going to ask of Brookover or anybody else.”

Williams said Dees would bring more than foreign policy heft to Carson’s campaign leadership. “This guy has managed many operations around the world. He’s managed people. He knows how to lead,” he said

Williams also suggested that Mike Murray, a consultant handling much of Carson’s direct mail operation, would become more involved in the campaign’s financial side. And he said Carson is ready for a fresh start. “Dr. Carson is a new man. He’s at peace today,” Williams said. “He’s very comfortable … He understands people move on. He has a mission, and that mission is going to go into high gear.”

Though the campaign revealed on Wednesday that it had raised $23 million in the quarter that ended Thursday — likely setting the pace among Republican candidates — the operation had been beset by staff-level dysfunction and exorbitant spending on small-donor fundraising efforts. The announcement also comes as Carson has struggled to halt a dramatic slide in his poll numbers amid doubts about his grasp of foreign policy issues after the Paris terrorist attacks and the accuracy of his personal narrative.

“Barry Bennett and I have resigned from the Carson campaign effective immediately,” Watts said in a statement. “We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status.” Bennett, a veteran campaign operative with long connections to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It was just a week ago, of course, that Carson hinted at major changes to his campaign in an interview with The Washington Post only to seemingly walk back those comments in subsequent comments. Carson’s campaign has been relatively silent since then, other than the press release reporting that the campaign’s next round of reports to the Federal Election Commission reports would show that the campaign had raised more than $23 million in the final quarter of 2015, although it’s unknown how much actual cash on hand Carson actually has. This last point is an important question because, in the past, Carson has raised a significant amount of his donations via direct mail campaigns, which are among the most costly way for a political campaign to raise money. In the end, that $23 million haul could result in Carson having significantly less cash on hand than candidates who raised less money than he did, and as we head into the first round of primaries it’s cash on hand that’s going to matter the most. This was was one of the reasons why as The Wall Street Journal noted earlier this month, that Carson’s campaign was burning through cash at an extraordinary rate.

In any case, these resignations are being spun by the campaign as restructuring but, as I noted last week, this just another sign of trouble that the Carson campaign has been experiencing since the beginning of November. From revelations that demonstrated a rather odd relationship with the truth, especially with regard to the personal biography on which he has built his campaign, to a demonstration that he seemingly lacks basic knowledge about public policy issues and that he has really hasn’t demonstrated any coherent understanding of foreign policy, the scrutiny that Carson received as he rose in the polls demonstrated that he was seriously lacking as a candidate. As a result, he’s seen himself dive in the polls from a position where he was in a strong second place behind Donald Trump nationally, and even briefly leading him in Iowa, to the point where he is now in fourth place and falling in the national polls, as well as in state polling in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Given all of that, any effort by the Carson campaign to spin this as anything other than another sign that his campaign is in a death spiral is really nothing more than campaign propaganda. As it stands, Carson seems unlikely to finish in the top four in any of the early primaries and, if that happens, it won’t matter how much money he raises.


FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Carson may have been a brilliant neurosurgeon (although there are some who even question that) but he has demonstrated that he is a moron when it comes to everything else. So goodbye Ben, I would guess you have enough money to retire and I would suggest you do that.

  2. CSK says:

    I think he got carried away by the popular success of his prayer breakfast attack on Obama, and figured he could parlay that into a presidential run, faux or otherwise. I don’t doubt that the man is a gifted surgeon–yes, he’s been sued (I don’t know if successfully), but he’s in a field where that’s likely to happen)–but that is not a qualification for the presidency. This may all turn out to have been just an opportunity to increase, dramatically, book sales, and put himself on the roster of people able to charge astronomical speaking fees.

    And it’s good to keep in mind that surgeons, particularly neurosurgeons, are the ultimate egomaniacs of medicine, up there with high-profile defense attorneys.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The thrill is gone,
    The thrill is gone away for good.

    As it stands, Carson seems unlikely to finish in the top four in any of the early primaries and, if that happens, it won’t matter how much money he raises.

    Oh ye of little faith, Doug. There’s always another sucker.

  4. Lit3Bolt says:

    I see the grifters got out while the grifting was good.

    I feel sorry for people who donated to Carson. At least if they had burned their money they would’ve received some warmth in return.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Lit3Bolt: What about that warm fuzzy feeling they got when they signed the check?

  6. Davebo says:

    Carson seems unlikely to finish in the top four in any of the early primaries and, if that happens, it won’t matter how much money he raises.

    Since the entire point of the campaign from day one was to take in money from the rubes and launder it through Armstrong Williams’ various associates I’d say how much money he raises is and always has been the only thing that matters.

  7. stonetools says:

    I expect Carson to drop out after Iowa, after things get serious and the flow of money ebbs.He can then sit down and count the results of a very successful season of skinning the rubes-and start to think about a repeat in 2019-20.

  8. Paul Hooson says:

    Sadly, his 15 minutes of fame are over. Further, I think many GOP voters only toyed with the possibility of nominating a Black man, no matter how great his achievements are. I also expect both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to fall well short as well, as many GOP voters are prejudiced against Hispanics as well, where sadly Donald Trump’s brand of prejudice represents a decent size segment of Republican voters on race relations these days.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @Paul Hooson: Will it be anti-Hispanic feeling, or the fact that Rubio looks like a fresh-faced kid and Cruz is a ringer for McCarthy Redux?

    The only pleasure I get from Cruz’s puss is realizing his jowls are going to hang down to the floor when he gets older. Hard for me to believe that the guy is younger than I am.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    This is definitely good news for Ted Cruz – all those Carson people will move on over to Cruz.
    Ted is number 2 now.
    Also, Rubio and Bush better cut back on the Ambien and start campaigning soon – maybe New Hampshire or South Carolina will be the place for those guys?

  11. André Kenji De Sousa says:

    @grumpy realist: Cruz talks and speaks like an Anglo. Rubio is convincing as Hispanic, Cruz is not.

  12. André Kenji De Sousa says:

    @grumpy realist: Cruz talks and speaks like an Anglo. Rubio is convincing as Hispanic, Cruz is not.

  13. C. Clavin says: