Two top aides quit Ben Carson campaign

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's campaign announced a shakeup on Thursday as both his campaign manager and chief spokesman abruptly called it quits.

Barry Bennett, a former Rick Perry supporter who has been with the Carson campaign since it launched in May, and Doug Watts, a longtime communications hand who was hired in March, both resigned.


"We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status," Watts said in a statement Thursday.

The decision came as Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon and former Marylander, has slipped in polling both in early primary states and nationally after a brief run at the top of the field. The slide followed statements he made that caused some to question his grasp on foreign policy issues.


Carson dropped to single digits this month, polling in fourth place in Iowa behind Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. A poll in November for the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore showed Carson leading in Maryland.

The Carson campaign released a statement announcing Ed Brookover, a senior strategist for the campaign, would take over as manager. Retired Army Major General Bob Dees, the campaign said, would serve as the campaign's chairman.

The statement described the moves as "enhancements, which will shift the campaign into a higher gear."

"As we enter a new phase of the campaign cycle, it is necessary to invigorate my campaign with a strategy that more aggressively shares my vision and world-view with the American people," Carson said in a statement.

Carson had presaged the shakeup in an interview with The Washington Post this week, saying he was "looking at every aspect of the campaign right now. Everything is on the table, every job is on the table. And we're going to analyze it very carefully."

The campaign has said it raised more than $23 million in the quarter that closes Thursday.