Ben Carson Stops Campaigning To Go On A Book Tour
Ben Carson will spend most of October on a book tour rather than campaigning for President. Further proof that he is not a serious candidate despite his standing in the polls.
Over the past two months, Ben Carson has surged in the polls to the point where he is in second place behind Donald Trump in the national polls, including one in which he is only one point behind, as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the retired John Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon is putting his campaign on hold for two weeks to go on a book tour:
Republican presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson has put his public campaign events on hold for two more weeks to go on book tour for his new tome “A More Perfect Union” and catch up on fundraising events.
The campaign has been careful to separate campaign events and the book tour, and doesn’t want to classify the tour as related to the campaign in any way.
This week he is catching up on fundraising events and will be back on his book tour next week making stops in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. So for the next two weeks, Carson won’t be appearing at any public “campaign events.”
Carson will be going back and forth between campaign fundraising events and book tour events over the next two weeks. His campaign says he has over 20 campaign fundraising events scheduled over that time period.
The campaign says the next time they will appear publicly with Carson will be the day of the next GOP debate on Oct. 28. His last public campaign event was Oct. 2.
Carson’s campaign staff will not travel with him while on tour, noting that it’s better to stay off the trail for fear of being accused of using campaign assets to sell books.
“It’s a question of co-mingling from the corporate standpoint to the Federal Election Commission standpoint so it’s just better to avoid any bad appearance,” spokesman Doug Watts told ABC News.
But, it’s in keeping with his unconventional campaign style — taking a break from campaign events and going on book tour while his campaign staff stays at home, spending very little time in early states, all the while still managing to remain high in the polls. He’s even managed to climb into a dead heat with Donald Trump in the latest national poll from Fox News yesterday.
The lack of public campaign events doesn’t seem to be hurting his visibility or influx of donations. Watts says they have raised $3 million so far this month and have about 15,000 pieces of mail sitting at the post office that average about $50 a donation, which is not included in the monthly total.
The book proceeds are personal, and are not connected to Dr. Carson’s presidential campaign, however the campaign does note they are indirectly making money off the book and views its release during a time when he is polling so high as beneficial.
Touting his recent poll numbers, the campaign says it is not worried Carson isn’t out and about as much.
“Our numbers went up in the Fox poll in the last 7 days our numbers went up in the CBS poll in the last 4 days,” Watts said. “They did the same thing in Virginia and we are the only Republican beating Hillary Clinton in Virginia so right now I don’t see any reason to be worried.”
To say the least, Carson’s decision to essentially suspend active campaigning other than fundraising for nearly the entire month of October is highly unusual. If he were among the field of candidates at the bottom of the polls, perhaps, it would be something that wouldn’t surprise anyone and, indeed, there have been instances in the past where low-polling candidates have released a book near the start or in the middle of a campaign and then decided to spend most of their time promoting the book rather than running for office. Ben Carson, though, isn’t a low-polling candidate. As I said, he is presently running second for the Republican nomination for President in nearly every poll that has been conducted for the past two months. He has just come off of a hugely successful fundraising quarter that saw him raise more money than established, experienced candidates like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul. If Donald Trump were to falter in the coming weeks, it would presumably be Carson who would be the immediate beneficiary. Additionally, while the caucuses in Iowa and primary in New Hampshire are still just under four months away, that is far less time than it appears to be on the calendar. The coming months are the time in which candidates and campaigns ought to be campaigning aggressively in those states and building the organization they would need to put together a credible showing on election night. For Carson to basically put all of that aside for nearly an entire month is surprising given his position in the polls and indicates a lack of seriousness to his campaign that voters are likely to notice.
Inevitably, the sight of Carson, or any candidate for that matter, effectively suspending their campaign for the purpose of going on a book tour that will generally benefit them personally far more than it would benefit the campaign will reinforce the perceptions of many, including myself, that Carson isn’t really serious about winning the nomination. It also reinforces the standard perception of long shot candidates entering the race for President primarily to boost their personal brand or essentially audition for some future media position. Looking at Carson’s decisions from the perspective of an undecided voter in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, a move like this is likely to lead to questions of just how serious Carson is about this race, whether he really knows what he’s getting himself into, and whether he’s the right candidate for them to put their support behind going forward. If that perception spreads, then Carson could see his position in the polls weaken very quickly while candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have been moving up in the polls behind him, keep moving ahead. Finally, of course, a move like this raises some serious questions about campaign finance law. Even if Carson is on tour promoting its book, it’s hard not to see how his appearances around the country and in the media would not end up being simultaneous promotion of his Presidential campaign. To the extent his publisher is paying for his book tour, that raises questions about the propriety of even mentioning his campaign for President while he’s talking about his book even though it would be rather impossible for him not to do so.
Notwithstanding his rise in the polls, I’ve never really believed that Ben Carson was a serious candidate for President. His lack of government experience combined with some rather obvious gaps in his knowledge regarding how government works and a long history of inflammatory rhetoric that most recently appeared to include the suggestion that Holocaust victims were partly to blame for their fate make it clear to me that he will eventually end up being this cycle’s Herman Cain. A move like this, which is almost unheard of in the history of American Presidential campaigning, only seems to confirm that.