Ben Carson has been circumspect in his public reaction to Donald Trump's nine-minute attack on Carson at a speech in Iowa Thursday night. "Now that he's completed his gratuitous attack, why don't we press on and deal with the real issues," Carson said in South Carolina Friday. "That's what the people of America are concerned about, not so much politics as usual, politics of personal destruction — that's what the American people are sick and tired of."
But inside the Carson campaign, the reaction to Trump is much stronger. The feeling among top aides is that no reasonable person could watch Trump's monologue and not conclude Trump is crazy and that his campaign is imploding. The campaign, and Carson, decided to stick with a policy of non-engagement because they believe Trump is self-destructing and they don't want to get in the way.
The Carson camp also believes that many more voters in early states will see portions of Trump's attacks on news programs this weekend, and it will benefit Carson. The idea is that a significant number of Republican voters favor an outsider candidate and are at this moment trying to decide between Trump and Carson, and constant replays of Trump's attack might nudge them toward Carson. In that sense, Carson's aides believe Carson himself doesn't have to react because the media will do his work for him.
The intensity of Trump's attack came as a surprise to the Carson camp because Trump has been particularly friendly with Carson in the recent times the two men have seen each other. Just before the Republican debate in Boulder, according to the word in CarsonWorld, Trump said to Carson that "we're friends" and that Trump really liked Carson. At the GOP debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday, the two men chatted amicably on stage during commercial breaks. And now this.