Ben Carson’s presidential campaign is firing back against a report in the New York Times claiming the Republican candidate is struggling to fully grasp foreign policy.
On Tuesday, the Times published a story in which two of Carson’s top advisers said he “struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security” despite intense tutoring.
Former CIA. agent Duane R. Clarridge, who the Times described as a top adviser to Carson on terrorism and national security, told the paper that the Republican candidate needed weekly conference calls on foreign policy so "we can make him smart," adding, "nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East.”
Clarridge's comments came after Carson said in the Fox Business Network/Wall Street Journal debate that “the Chinese are there” when discussing the turmoil in Syria, and appeared to struggle on "Fox News Sunday" when asked by host Chris Wallace who he would call first to form a coalition against ISIS.
Carson’s campaign quickly pushed back against Clarridge's claims, saying in a statement Tuesday night that “Mr. Clarridge has incomplete knowledge of the daily, not weekly briefings, that Dr. Carson receives on important national security matters from former military and state department officials.
“Mr. Clarridge's input to Dr. Carson is appreciated but he is clearly not one of Dr. Carson's top advisers,” the statement continued. “ For the New York Times to take advantage of an elderly gentleman and use him as their foil in this story is an affront to good journalistic practices."
Armstrong Williams,whom the Times described as Carson's top adviser, said the retired neurosurgeon has struggled to adapt his speaking style to one more fit for debates and TV interviews. "Sometimes he over thinks things," Williams told the Times. "I could tell him, talking to him, it was a bummer for him"