For Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, the race to the 2016 election has been the best of times and, more recently, the worst of times. Less than two months after mounting a surprising challenge to front-runner Donald Trump, Carson is now fielding questions from the press on what went wrong and who he’s going to fire to fix it.
In an interview with the Washington Post last week but published Monday, Carson, 64, opened up about the issues that have so far stymied his campaign – terrorism and foreign affairs – and his misgivings about the way the media treats presidential candidates. Or, at least, the way the media treats him.
“Well, the fact that people try to find a scandal. Of course there are no scandals, which is pretty frustrating for them, I’m sure,” the retired neurosurgeon said, describing his view of the presidential vetting process. “When they couldn’t find a scandal, they try to impugn your integrity and say you’re a liar.”
Carson, who grew up in Detroit, came under strong media scrutiny as he rose in the polls in November, eclipsing Trump in polls in the Iowa caucuses and tying the front-runner in national polls with highs of just under 25 percent of the likely GOP vote. Reporters, eager to pick through his personal story – a major cornerstone of his campaign and his appeal absent a professional record in government – found what appeared to be inconsistencies with stories surrounding an instance when he said he tried and failed to stab a friend and also his acceptance into West Point.
“Obviously, going through a process like this is pretty brutal,” he said. “Everybody told me that it would be, so that doesn’t particularly surprise me.”
But Carson acknowledges that his polling has been more affected by foreign policy issues than by the inconsistencies in his personal story. Carson has seen a sharp decline in his polling nationwide in the weeks following the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris. Carson, who was riding high at the time of Paris, failed to prove to voters that he had the know-how to combat the growing threat of militant terrorists and committed several gaffes. As of Monday he's polling in fourth place nationally, with 9.3 percent of the GOP vote.
He told the Post that he plans to shake up his campaign before Iowa. That may or may not include firing his campaign manager and close advisers.