Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is “probably not” ready for the job, according to leading conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“Ben Carson equipped to be president? Um — probably not at this stage,” Limbaugh told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace in an interview this morning. “But any of these Republicans running would be better than Hillary or better than anything we’ve got now, so on that, based on that comparison, yes. I would vote for him if it was up to him and Hillary. Absolutely, without a doubt.”
Carson’s lack of foreign policy experience has emerged as a political weakness in the week following the terrorist attacks in Paris. One of Carson’s foreign-policy advisors, Duane Clarridge, told the New York Times that the famed neurosurgeon struggles to understand what’s going on in the Middle East. “Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” Clarridge said.
Limbaugh’s comments suggest that Carson may not always be able to count on the talk-radio support that helped propel him up the polls in the first place as a bulwark against such concerns.
#share#Even so, Carson has built an impressive grassroots army. On Thursday, he became just the fourth GOP candidate to submit the 5,000 signatures necessary to quality for the Virginia primary ballot — a task made more difficult by the requirement that candidates find at least 200 signatories in each of the state’s congressional districts.
Carson cleared that hurdle easily, filing 14,000 signatures. “This effort is reflective of the movement our campaign has inspired — a grassroots movement of we the people, united to heal, inspire and revive this great nation,” he said Thursday.
His grassroots support may be softening, though, as activists in Iowa express doubts about his foreign-policy credentials. “We need someone who knows the ropes, who’s not the establishment but who doesn’t need on-the-job training,” one woman told Politico.
#related#Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), appearing on Fox News Sunday before the Limbaugh interview aired, agreed that a hawkish electorate would benefit him at the expense of candidates such as Carson. “I obviously am not happy about the events from last week in Paris, but I think it’s a positive development that it suddenly has cast — forced Americans to confront more carefully the issue of national security,” Rubio said. “And I hope we focus on that more, not just for political advantage, but because the world has become a very dangerous place.”
Limbaugh, for all that he expressed doubts about Carson’s qualifications, made clear that any candidate who attacks the media will be dear to his heart. “Donald Trump is I think doing a great service,” Limbaugh said. “He is showing that you do not have to fear attacks from the media. Republicans do not have to fear attacks from the media. He’s showing you do not have to fear being political correct or violating political correctness.”
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.