The Ben Carson presidential campaign is deflecting calls from the media and other Republicans for the retired neurosurgeon to get out of the 2016 race, saying the voters will make that decision and hoping they will choose values over volume.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. General Bob Dees is chairman of the Carson campaign. He says there’s no reason to demand any candidates to get out of the race after only four contests.
“There’s a lot of pundits who say, ‘John Kasich ought to get out or Ben Carson ought to get out or Ted Cruz ought to get out of the race so that my guy can win.’ We’ve got a democratic political process and we ought to follow it, rather than preordain who’s going to survive the gauntlet,” said Dees, who also serves as a top foreign policy adviser to Carson.
Dees says this is not some quixotic effort after four disappointing performances. He says the supporters are there but there are challenges in turning that into electoral success.
“There’s a lot of pent-up enthusiasm out there. Folks are voting with their feet everywhere but the polls. We’re hopeful it’ll reflect in the polls as well. We recognize that needs to happen sooner rather than later. As Dr. Carson will tell his supporters, ‘If not now, then when and if not us, then who?'” said Dees.
He says the same obstacles apply in the scramble for delegates.
“The good news about Dr. Carson’s grassroots support is that it’s really across the country. Sometimes we wish it were concentrated in one state so you win that state and you get all those delegates at once. The reality is that’s not the way a grassroots movement of ‘We the People’ works,” said Dees.
While Dees is optimistic for better results soon, he’s not expecting any shockers on Super Tuesday, when voters in 14 states head to the polls.
“I don’t know where we might compete for the victory. That’s hard to project,” said Dees, who believes Carson is gaining strength in Texas and other southern states leading up to Tuesday.
In the primaries and caucuses already concluded, analysts often break down the vote by tallying support for Carson, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as the outsider vote and everyone else as the mainstream or establishment vote. Dees rejects that classification.
“[Carson] is the only true outsider. To suggest that Donald Trump is an outsider is a bit duplicitous because inside politically and inside with buying influence in that and that. That’s just a matter of record,” said Dees.
He wasn’t done contrasting his candidate with Trump.
“The questions we have to ask the American people are, ‘Do we want volume or do we want values? Do we want wisecracks or do we want wisdom? Do we want wild proclamations or do we want common sense solutions with Dr. Ben Carson?’ That’s been his hallmark, including standing in front of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast,” said Dees.
Carson has been stung by a few different developments in recent months. One is his reluctance to join the rhetorical fray in the debates unless called upon or referenced. Dees says Carson is happy to contrast himself with his opponents but will never get down into the mud.
“Dr. Carson will never change his character because that’s who he is. He will never make personal attacks. At the debates, I would not expect him to attack anyone, but if there’s a lot of gladiator jousts, it might become obvious to the American people who the real adult in the room is,” said Dees.
Another common analysis is that when the focal point of the campaign turned to ISIS late last year after attacks in Paris and California, that Carson was not up to speed on foreign policy. Dees says that is completely untrue and that Carson has shown great instincts and common sense in their foreign policy sessions.
And he says Carson’s leadership skills are well established.
“Who’s had more 2 a.m. calls than Dr. Ben Carson? Just consider who’s dealt with more life or death scenarios. Consider who is truly steady in a crisis,” said Dees.
For him personally, Dees says it was easy for him to sign on to the Carson campaign at the very beginning, noting Carson’s honesty, integrity and faith.
“It’s who he is a as a person. You can do a lot of things and he’s done a lot of things. You can know a lot of things and he knows a lot of things but ultimately who is a person internally? What is their internal moral compass?” asked Dees. “Ben Carson is as steady as they come.”