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Meet the man who’s got Ben Carson’s ear

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Many in the media are excited by the stories swirling around Dr. Ben Carson, who is, depending on which poll you consult, either leading or in second place in the hunt for the GOP presidential nomination.

But not Armstrong Williams. Dr. Carson’s business manager and friend — he is not with the Carson campaign but talks to the candidate frequently, often many times a day — is best described as relaxed and confident about his friend, the pediatric neurosurgeon-turned-candidate-for-the-presidency.

Williams is also dismissive of the controversy growing out of MSM’s inability to attach date stamps to every detail of Dr. Carson’s youth or to find childhood pals from 50 years ago who can recall Dr. Carson’s temperament then.

Williams is happy, in fact, that the West Point dust up with Politico allowed Dr. Carson to display some “fire in the belly,” and dismissive of the idea that any of these stories will “interrupt or disrupt” Carson’s rise.

More from the Washington Examiner

The only issue for the man that Armstrong Williams, no slouch himself, calls “no doubt a genius,” is that Dr. Carson has not yet mastered “the political language.” But Carson, Williams assures me, is in the process of doing so, and that process is moving fast.

Williams describes to me Carson’s learning process and the immense capacity of his brain to absorb and process information flows. It is an “almost superhero” ability to learn and organize the inputs.

And the ups and downs of the days of a long campaign?

Dr. Carson “sees himself as a vehicle, drafted by the people.” The nips of the the chattering class aren’t going to slow him down or impede him.

Lots of candidates think they have destiny on their side and perhaps a touch of providential backing, but Williams communicates a certainty that is both charismatic but also unsettling in its novelty. He gives me names and numbers of various advisors and operatives, calls one of them, General Bob Dees, in mid-interview and alerts the general that I will be calling. (More on that conversation in a future column.)

It’s early Saturday morning. Armstrong’s already been to the gym, talked to Carson about tomorrow’s “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” interviews and is readying for a trip to Europe to report firsthand on the refugee crisis there. Dr. Carson is not in a hurry to admit any of the refugees to America, and no doubt what Williams discovers in his reporting will shape the doctor’s thinking as it evolves.

Which is why the people trying to figure out Dr. Carson ought, after they have talked to the candidate and his spouse, to speak with the longtime broadcaster, who is remarkably accessible. It may be Dr. Carson’s first run for office, but it isn’t his or his team’s first time around the block.

I pushed Armstrong to push Carson to come back to my radio show and do more long form interviews since the debate format doesn’t favor Carson any more than it does Jeb Bush. I don’t think I made much progress on that front, and I don’t know if I disagree with the short term strategy of sticking with Dr. Carson’s limiting his media availability to carefully timed and limited appearances, almost the exact opposite of Donald Trump’s “anytime, anywhere” accessibility.

It is a mighty strange cycle. The last person you’d have picked to become the nominee may indeed be the first across the line. Time will tell. If Dr. Carson does prosper, his small band of believers that grew and grew will be a story for the ages, and in the first chapter will be Armstrong Williams.

 

 

This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.

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