The Washington Post reports that Ben Carson’s key staffers have quit today after conflict ensued within the Maryland neurosurgeon’s campaign party. Campaign manager Barry Bennett, a key staff member, explains the reason for having quit today given the friction within the party.
Doug Watts, communications director, officially announced his resignation as well. “Barry Bennett and I have resigned from the Carson campaign effective immediately,” Watts said. Other sources have weighed in on this resignation as well.
SCOOP: 2 of Ben Carson's top aides have RESIGNED: campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts, sources tell me.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) December 31, 2015
Later on it was confirmed that deputy manager Lisa Coen was the third key staffer to quit following her colleagues.
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
Insiders say that the reason for these two key staffers quitting was due to long-term tensions that were already simmering internally within the management team. So these two key staffers having quit is the manifestation of this conflict.
Carson’s business adviser Armstrong Williams, a longtime friend of Carson’s, goes into detail on why these key staffers (Bennett, Watts, and Coen) have quit. Bennett demanded a more traditional GOP approach, whereas Williams had his reservations towards Bennett’s tactics, claiming that it did not play on Ben’s strengths as a politician enough.
— WW3blog.com (@WW3blog) November 22, 2015
This power and relationship struggle was already starting to unfold in the public eye serving as a foreshadowing of the key staffers quitting. On December 23 — during a Washington Post interview at Dr. Carson’s mansion — Carson discussed the turmoil among his staff without letting Bennett know.
On top of all that, NBC News reports that Ben has already announced that there will be a “shake-up” within his campaign, but he claimed that he is 100 percent confident with his current personnel which seemed to be contradictory. Carson has since clarified that he meant something different, but what actually transpired seems to reflect what was originally speculated.
As more instances like this seemed to occur, Dr. Carson reportedly was placed in situations where he had to choose sides within his own campaign team. Williams, being a longtime friend of Carson’s, still seemed to gain more ground despite his negative transgressions, thus constantly undermining Bennett — causing him to quit.
As this continued, Bennett repeatedly felt ousted by Carson and even speculated himself that he would have eventually been terminated anyway. “I spent the holidays hearing every day that I had lost my job,” Bennett told the Washington Post. This eventually caused him to quit and set the chain for his fellow key staffers to also quit.
According to Bennett, the phone conversation with Carson started off casual as usual, and then directly to the point of him quitting.
“It started out like we always start out, ‘Good morning, how are you? How are things?’ Then I said, pretty simply, that I was resigning. He was very surprised. He said, ‘Can you think about it? Can you wait until the end of the day, think it over?’ I just said, ‘No. I’m sorry. I’m done.’ My point was, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”
— Rejoice Magazine (@RejoiceMagNews) January 2, 2016
Nonetheless, Bennett claims that he still has a good relationship with Dr. Carson and wishes him the best on the campaign trail without him being a part of his key staff going forward.
And how exactly will this effect Carson’s campaign trail without Bennett and other former key staff members backing him?
For starters, retired Army General Robert F. Dees will take over as chairman. And senior adviser Ed Brookover will replace Bennett as campaign manager, the Washington Post reports. Dr. Carson still seems to have his head held high going forward but one of his former advisers seem to think otherwise.
"Deeply concerned about the (Carson) campaign's ability to move forward successfully without" Barry Bennett and Doug Watts, Lisa Coen says.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) December 31, 2015
Currently, Dr. Carson continues to struggle in the polls shortly after being a close contender with GOP front-runner, Donald Trump. Now dragging behind the business tycoon, his key staffers quitting on him couldn’t have come at a worse time.