Ben Carson’s Best Frenemy Isn’t Done Wrecking His Campaign Just Yet

The retired neurosurgeon had a very bad weekend.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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Armstrong Williams, the Ben Carson confidant whom a former staffer once described as the presidential candidate’s “No. 1 challenge,” told the Washington Post this weekend that Carson faces a “tough decision” after finishing dead last in the South Carolina primary.

“The voters have spoken pretty clearly in the first three states, and sooner rather than later, [Carson is] going to have to think hard about whether he should keep doing this,” Williams told the Washington Post. “He has a tough decision to make.” Carson finished with just 7.2 percent of the vote in South Carolina on Saturday but has vowed to continue his campaign.

Williams, a conservative talk show host who owns several TV stations and a PR firm, has a close relationship with Carson that predates the retired neurosurgeon’s run for president. He even reportedly has his own room at Carson’s house, and Carson told the Hill last year that Williams came as part of the Carson “package deal.”

Although he did not have an official title, former Carson staffers told Mother Jones that Williams was constantly interfering in the campaign—and not always to Carson’s benefit. Without consulting any of Carson’s campaign advisers, Williams arranged a series of interviews that ended up inflicting serious damage to Carson’s run, including a December sit-down in which Carson told two Washington Post reporters that he planned to fire some of his top people. Several key staffers quit soon after the interview and most pointed to Williams’ meddling as the reason.

Williams’ past in politics is checkered, to say the least. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found he had used “covert propaganda” to advance President George W. Bush’s education initiative No Child Left Behind. Williams never faced charges and ultimately agreed to a $34,000 settlement with the government.

Despite his friend’s remarks and a disappointing turn in South Carolina, Carson was stumping determinedly in Nevada on Monday in the lead-up to the state’s Tuesday caucuses.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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