Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign suffered a hefty loss Thursday — both his campaign director and top communication’s aide resigned, according to Politico.
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.
Despite the positive tone conveyed to Politico, Des Moines Register Political reporter, Jennifer Jacobs, says yet another key advisor has resigned:
SCOOP: 3rd top Ben Carson aide quits – Deputy Campaign Manager Lisa Coen tells me she has resigned, too. #iacaucus
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) December 31, 2015
Carson’s campaign has battled bad press over its spending habits. Burning through astronomical amounts of cash to reach more donors, Carson’s campaign has been accused of getting suckered into direct mail schemes and greedy consultant cons. The Week wrote:
Spending lots of money early in an election isn’t necessarily bad, if you’re investing it in things that will be valuable for you later. If you have a big staff in Iowa, for instance, presumably they’ll be organizing activists, persuading voters, and putting in place the infrastructure you’ll need to get your supporters to the caucuses.
But that’s not where Ben Carson’s money is going. Much of it is going to the fundraising itself, mostly through direct mail. And money spent to raise money is just gone. Yes, you can go back to those people who contributed and ask for more, but that might or might not pay off. The Carson campaign is also delivering phone spam to untold numbers of people all over the country. I know lifelong Democrats who have gotten these calls and can’t figure out what list would include them as potential Carson supporters, suggesting a telemarketing firm is billing the candidate for oodles of useless calls.
It sure looks like Carson’s campaign is a self-perpetuating machine in which money is raised to pay mostly for more money being raised — and the people doing the direct mail and phone calls are making out quite nicely. As conservative radio host Erick Erickson says, “Carson’s actual expenditure list reads like a wealthy Republican getting played by consultants.”
While Carson was once a contender for the coveted title of “front-runner,” he’s now polling around 9%.
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