Speed Reads

Not one iota

Ben Carson just got slammed by his own adviser on foreign policy

Ben Carson's top advisers are well aware of the Republican presidential candidate's shortcomings when it comes to foreign policy. Time and time again, they've sat down with him to try to bring him up to speed. But, they say, it's been to no avail.

"Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East," Carson's top adviser on terrorism and national security Duane Clarridge told The New York Times. The advisers admitted that Carson had "struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security and that intense tutoring was having little effect."

While Carson has been able to slide by so far, maintaining a lead in many national and state polls, Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris have already begun to push foreign policy to the forefront of the race. Carson's foreign policy smarts — or lack thereof — will no longer be able to hide.

Already, Carson has made some notable foreign policy flubs. Last week, he wrongly claimed that China had intervened in Syria. Carson's adviser Clarridge added an additional layer of insult to that error when, in defending Carson's misstep, he used "an ethnic slur for the Chinese," The Times reports.

Carson's latest snafu came Sunday on Fox News when he failed to name which countries he would tap to form a coalition against ISIS, prompting Clarridge to demand weekly conference calls with his candidate on the issues. "We need to have a conference call once a week where his guys roll out the subjects they think will be out there, and we can make him smart," Clarridge reportedly told top Carson adviser Armstrong Williams after the incident.

"He's been briefed on it so many times," Williams said. "I guess he just froze."

Read the full story over at The New York Times.

Update 5:04 p.m.: In an email to Business Insider, Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts downplayed Clarridge's influence on the campaign, arguing that he is not a "top adviser," as The New York Times describes him.

"Mr. Clarridge has incomplete knowledge of the daily, not weekly briefings, that Dr. Carson receives on important national security matters from former military and State Department officials... Mr. Clarridge's input to Dr. Carson is appreciated but he is clearly not one of Dr. Carson's top advisers. For The New York Times to take advantage of an elderly gentleman and use him as their foil in this story is an affront to good journalistic practices."