In N.H. Campaign Swing, Carson Defends His Foreign Policy Chops

Dec 22, 2015

With the New Hampshire primary less than two months away, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson is trying to shore up his Granite State support.

During this week’s two-day visit, Carson hosted several town halls, headlined a forum on national security and wrapped the trip up with a holiday-themed celebration in Concord.

The concert headlined The Crabb Family, which is a southern gospel group out of Kentucky, as well as included acts from numerous local artists and even a performance from Carson's wife, Candy, who both sang and played the violin.  

Candy Carson played "Silent Night" on the violin.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Carson brought a similar cheery spirit to the New Hampshire campaign trail the past few days - appearing more energetic and animated - jokey, even in stops in this week. 

This one's about why he chose to be a pediatric surgeon: “With a kid you can operate for ten, 12, 15, 18, 20 hours and if you’re successful your reward may be 50, 60, 70, 80 years of life, where as with an old geezer you spend all that time operating and they die five years of something else, so I like to get a big return on my investment," Carson laughingly told employees at the tech company Dyn in Manchester.

But the main message Carson tried to deliver is that when it comes to his foreign policy know-how – don’t let the quiet demeanor fool you. “If it’s about how loud you talk all you need to do is go to Washington, D.C. and you can find a lot of people who talk very loud about all types of things but have done nothing,” he said.

Before the concert, Ben Carson and his wife Candy posed for photos with dozens of those in attendance.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

As a contrast to “doing nothing,” Carson recites his long list of accomplishments as a former neurosurgeon, from his 67 honorary degrees to the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Honorary degrees may seem an unlikely prop to promote your national security credentials. But until the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California –Carson didn’t talk too much about the issue.

Now, as he told voters at a forum in Manchester Monday, it’s the main issue on his mind, adding that he gets weekly briefings on foreign policy.

But he also admits he’s no savant on the issue. That’s OK, he says, because being president is not a one-man show. "You need to know how to utilize expertise and in order to do that it does require a degree of humility and you need to know stuff but nobody knows everything,” he told the dozens in the crowd.

To finish the night off, Ben Carson and Candy Carson joined all the performers to sing "Merry Christmas" on stage.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

This argument resonates with voters like Bill Molloy of Bedford. “He knows how to control his ego – he’s not going to make decisions about national security based on emotion, he’ll collect the facts, confer with the experts and make good, sound decisions that aren’t involved with ego,” Molloy said.

Although foreign policy took center stage during this visit, Carson’s musical celebration will likely be the most memorable gift he leaves his New Hampshire supporters this week.