Ben Carson’s Free-Falling Campaign Loses Top 2 Staffers


By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 12:38 PM

Ben Carson’s campaign manager and communications director both resigned Thursday morning, just a month away from the Iowa Caucuses, in a surprise move that could shake up the campaign as his poll numbers continue their downhill slide.

Communications Director Doug Watts, in a statement to The Des Moines Register, confirmed that he and Campaign Manager Barry Bennett had stepped down, effective immediately. Further, Bennett told The Washington Post that more resignations are likely, as the internal stresses within the Carson campaign are forcing people to reconsider their support.

“We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status, having just announced raising $23 million for the fourth quarter, more than any other Republican candidate, and passing one million contributions and over 600 million unique donors,” Watts said in the statement. “Since March, we are proud of our efforts for Dr. Carson and we wish him and his campaign the best of luck.”

Carson was once ahead of front-runner Donald Trump in the Iowa polls, but his popularity started to slip after questions about his foreign policy experience. His poll ranking was at 28 percent at its highest point in October, but according to an early December poll among Iowa’s likely caucus growers, the retired neurosurgeon’s ratings dropped by 15 percentage points.

A source inside the campaign told NBC News that there is stress within the campaign because of Carson’s close friend and confidante, Armstrong Williams, who the source described as an “ongoing problem since day one.”

The poll struggles and fundraising issues, said the source, are “all self-inflicted wounds created” by Williams.

However, the resignations may not have been a surprise move, according to interviews Carson has been giving. Earlier this month, Carson said in an interview that he was considering major “personnel changes” to his campaign, reported NBC.

Hours later, he issued a written statement saying he has “100 percent confidence” in his team, but he’d told the Associated Press, earlier that “everything is on the table,” and that he’s “looking carefully.”

Further, the AP reported, the interview was done without Bennett’s knowledge. Carson also spoke with The Washington Post on Wednesday, and after the interviews were published, Bennett insisted that no staff shakeup was planned.


Washington Post Political Reporter Robert Costa, posting and updating through Twitter, said that Bennett told the Post over the phone that his “frustration level has peaked with Dr. Carson’s outside advisers.”

Bennett said there will be “lots of other people resigning” from Carson’s campaign staff, and that he and Williams have been fighting for months. Further, Bennett told Costa, he has not seen Carson in person since mid-December, and that he’d spent the holidays every day hearing that he was going to lose his job.

“Armstrong can come run it,” Bennett told Costa.

Williams, in another phone call, said that retired Army Gen. Robert Dees will be in charge of the Carson campaign.

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Trump and Killary – War On Women???

clinton-cosbyDon’t Get It Twisted! Hillary Clinton better not dare bring up the so called “War On Women”. Donald Trump will bring every rape, sexual assault and indiscretion into the fold from her husband Bill Clinton. The fact that she is still married to that man shows how power and money hungry she is. The Clinton Foundation wouldn’t be what it is today without Bill Clinton.

Iran fires rockets near US aircraft carrier

By Kristina Wong12/29/15 05:40 PM EST

Several Iranian military vessels approached and fired unguided rockets near a U.S. aircraft carrier traveling through international waters, two U.S. officials confirmed to The Hill.

The Iranian vessels came as close at 1,500 yards from the USS Harry S. Truman before firing the rockets in a direction away from the carrier, one U.S. military official told The Hill.

The official called the incident “certainly unnecessarily provocative” and “unsafe.” It happened last week, on Dec. 26, as the Truman was transiting the Strait of Hormuz, “an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane,” the official said. NBC News first reported the incident.

At around 10:36 a.m., several Iranian navy vessels approached the Truman, as well as other coalition and merchant vessels, the official said.

“They were observed quickly approaching their location as they transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf,” said the official.

At 10:45 a.m., Iran warned of a “previously unannounced live-fire exercise over maritime radio and requested for nearby vessels to remain clear,” the official added.

Twenty-three minutes later, at 11:08 a.m., the exercise warnings were repeated, and the ships started to launch the rockets, the official said.

It is unclear how many rockets were fired, the official added; however, they were fired in a direction away from the passing commercial and coalition ships. The ships departed after firing the rockets.

The Truman is the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter the Gulf, after the USS Theodore Roosevelt left in October, leaving a U.S. carrier gap of several months. The U.S. has maintained a carrier presence in the Gulf for decades, even keeping two carriers there at the same time to support the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

When the Roosevelt left the Gulf in early October, Iran conducted a ballistic missile test.

The Truman carried out its first missions in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syriaon Tuesday. The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is also in the Gulf in support of operations against ISIS.

Updated 12/30/15 at 11:53 a.m.

Official: ‘Affluenza’ teen granted temporary stay against deportation


The teen fugitive known for using an “affluenza” defense during his trial for a fatal crash was granted a three-day delay against deportation from Mexico, a Mexican official said Wednesday morning.

An official with Mexico’s Migration Institute told an Associated Press reporter about Ethan Couch’s court injunction. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he or she wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name.

Couch and his mother were scheduled to be sent back to the U.S. on Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if his mother, Tonya Couch, also would be granted a delay.

Both had been scheduled to fly back to Houston after authorities said a phone call for pizza led to their capture in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta. They were being held at immigration offices in Guadalajara.

Couch’s attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.

The mother and son had earlier filed a “legal writ” to remain in Mexico, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday morning. The pair had been on the run for several weeks after it appeared Ethan may have violated his parole.

“They’re trying to fight being brought back somehow,” Sheriff Dee Anderson said. “It’s just a continuing string of what we’ve seen all along. We’re patient people. We’ll be waiting.”

A cellphone used to order pizza helped lead authorities to the pair.

According to a police report issued by the Jalisco state prosecutors’ office, the duo used one of their phones to order Domino’s Pizza for a room at a condominium in the beach city of Puerto Vallarta. A U.S. Marshals Service agent tipped authorities in Mexico about the location of the phone on Monday.

When agents went to the condo, the Couches had already moved on, but a tourism operator pointed agents to the mother and son’s new home at an apartment in Puerto Vallarta’s old town. Agents set up a surveillance operation in the area and found the Couches that night.

The police report says they claimed to be carrying no identification and gave inconsistent stories about their names. They were taken into custody and handed over to Immigration officials.

Ethan Couch was driving drunk and speeding on a road south of Fort Worth in June 2013 when he crashed into a disabled SUV off to the side, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in his pickup truck.

During the sentencing phase of Couch’s trial, a defense expert argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility — a condition the expert termed “affluenza.” The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation drew ridicule.

Couch pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. A judge sentenced him in juvenile court to 10 years’ probation and a stint in a rehabilitation center.

After Couch’s latest escapade, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said she plans to ask a judge to transfer his case to adult court at a scheduled Jan. 19 probation violation hearing.

Couch would then face up to 120 days in an adult jail, followed by 10 years’ probation. If he violates probation, he could face up to 10 years in prison per death, Wilson said.

If the judge declines to transfer Couch to adult court, Wilson will ask that his probation be revoked, in which case he could be held in a juvenile facility until his sentence expires when he turns 19 next April.

Anderson said an arrest warrant was being issued for Tonya Couch on charges of hindering an apprehension, a third-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison.

The sheriff has said he believes mother and son fled in late November after a video surfaced that appears to show Couch at a party where people were drinking. Authorities had begun searching for Couch and his mother after he missed a mandatory appointment with his probation officer on Dec. 10.

Couch’s parents are also no strangers to the law. Tonya and Fred Couch have more than 20 criminal and traffic offenses on their records, according to the Daily Mail, and Fred Couch is awaiting trial on charges of false identification after allegedly posing as a police officer, and even flashing a phony badge.

The couple married in 1996, according to Ten years later they divorced, then remarried. After their son’s drunken-driving crash, they separated again.

In a 2013 deposition for a civil suit brought by one of the victims of Ethan’s crash, the teen admits to taking drugs, including Valium, Hydrocodone, marijuana, cocaine, Xanax, Vyvanse.

In the tapes of the testimony, obtained by ABC News, it was also revealed that Ethan Couch was found drinking in a parked pickup with a naked, passed out girl when he was 15. He was never disciplined, and was allowed to drink at a young age and drive himself to school at just 13.

Attorneys: “You understood, did you not, that he was likely to continue the drinking and driving if there weren’t consequences?”

Tonya Couch: “I should have known that, yes. I really didn’t think that that would happen again.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.