In Wake of Paris Attacks, Carson Supporters Not Fazed By Foreign Policy Inexperience
Candidates have been able to file for the New Hampshire Primary ballot for the past three weeks. Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon, waited until the very last day.
For his supporters, the wait was worth it. Carson fans began gathering at a downtown Concord restaurant starting at 9 a.m.,only to be lead across the street to the State House in groups of 40. Carson himself wasn't scheduled to file until noon.
Everyone hoping to catch the candidate at the State House had to be screened and searched by Secret Service agents and dogs guarding the stairway to the Secretary of State’s office.
Inside, dozens of people lined the hallways, sporting blue and red signs that read “Inspire” and “Revive” – and chanting, “Go Ben, Go, Go Ben, Go, Go Ben, Go.”
Like the more than 50 other candidates who filed in recent weeks, Carson got a brief lesson in New Hampshire Primary history from Secretary of State Bill Gardner, filled out the paperwork and handed over the required $1,000 check.
Carson then took questions from the press, most of which focused on the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week and how to handle Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.
Carson told reporters there needs to be a more careful vetting system in place but, "I think it is very important to recognize that that is not the only option, is bringing these people here. We can create safe zones over there and actually makes a lot more sense and we can provide them with humanitarian support.”
Opponents have criticized Carson for his lack of experience and sometimes unsteady answers when it comes to foreign policy. But when defending his approach on international affairs, Carson points to his roots as a doctor, saying that like the field of medicine, the world is constantly changing.
“So, yes I know a great deal more than I did last year, no question about it," Carson said. "And next year this time I will know a great deal more than I did this year, but it is a continuing spectrum of change and you must always recognize that you have to keep up with it and have to keep up with the changes that are made.”
Reading this story on your iPhone or iPad? Download NHPR's new State of Democracy app and stay connected to the stories that matter from the 2016 campaign trail. Click here to get the app.
And although Carson may be receiving scrutiny from other candidates and the media, he doesn’t seem to be getting any flack from his supporters.
Louis DeGeorge of Boxford, Mass., was the first person to wait in line to see Carson file.
“A president can’t have experience in everything, and everybody questions how much experience they need to have in certain areas, and if it wasn’t foreign policy it would be economics if it wasn’t economics it would be some social issue or whatever," DeGeorge said. "So, I think the most important thing is he is able to manage a number of people and pick a good team.”
John Bolster of Thornton was also not concerned about this issue. He said the next president doesn’t need to be a brain surgeon on foreign affairs.
“I don’t really think you need all of this foreign experience, you know international experience – if you have a brain and can make a decision, which I think he has plenty of, then I think he is the best man for the job,” Bolster said.
Once Carson filed and his supporters left the State House, the Republican candidate was off to his next campaign event: in Iowa, that very same night.