- - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

To: Dr. Ben Carson

From: Steve Deace

It’s not your lack of experience in elected office that threatens your candidacy, Dr. Carson, but, rather, your lack of experience navigating the political process.

You may think you know on an intellectual level what you’re getting into running for national office, but until you’ve actually experienced it you have no idea. Sort of like how you probably had med students that thought they understood neurosurgery well enough intellectually, but it wasn’t until they held the tools to slice open someone’s cranium in their hands for the first time that stuff suddenly got real.

Having covered presidential elections closely and known several people who have run for president, I’ve learned a few things about the process. I offer here three lessons you would be wise to learn, before you repeat the mistakes of others. I hope they help.

1. Whom you hire to run the campaign determines your fate — not you: This will be a strong GOP field of alpha males, and they’re not just going to go quietly into that good night to make room for Dr. Ben Carson. They will attack Ben Carson like he’s never been attacked before. And then if it looks like you’re a serious threat for the nomination, you can expect the left to hit you with the full-bore Sarah Palin treatment. Because whether you’re a woman or a racial minority, if you threaten their phony victimology narrative, you must be taken out, lest the American people learn once and for all the emperor has no clothes. It’s imperative you surround yourself with capable people who are prepared for this.

Also, you need to understand who the major players are on the ground in the key primary states. Otherwise, you’ll speak to lots of groups, but miss out on the group of people who can actually move boots on the ground for you. Do you know who you have to talk to on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina? If you think the path to the nomination is simply going to local or statewide party events, you’re gravely mistaken. They play a role for sure, but there are lots of grassroots activists who never attend those events you’re missing out on if that’s all you do. That’s why you need a staff around you that knows who the players are; otherwise you’re going to raise a lot of money, and then waste a lot of money, too.

If you don’t have people around you that know how to navigate those three early states, you’re done. No one that didn’t win two of the first three early states has ever won the nomination, and you won’t either.

2. Truly know what you believe: Dr. Carson, you are an inspirational figure. But we remain an ideologically-driven party. Most people become Republicans because they believe in things, not because of identity politics. While your story will buy you ample time to sell people on your candidacy, sooner or later you’ll have to prove your ideological bona fides.

For example, you’ve given conflicting opinions on two of the most important issues in a GOP primary: the Second Amendment and the sanctity of life.

You told Glenn Beck the Second Amendment may not apply in some urban areas, but also wrote a column for The Washington Times accurately explaining why our Founding Fathers gave it to us in the first place. So which is it?

You called the killing of unborn children “murder,” which it is, but then you also praised a friend of yours running for U.S. Senate in Oregon because she was “pragmatic” for not opposing it. So which is it?

These are issues you will be seriously vetted on. Have you truly game-planned out your belief system? Is it defensible, principled and consistent? Have you done so on every other issue? Do you understand “American Exceptionalism,” and can you articulate its origins and articulate them to a contemporary audience?

3. Have a plan for what you want to do if elected: Since you have no record, we have nothing to hold you accountable to. That’s good in one respect, because you can’t be pinned down, but that also means you need to have a plan for what you would do if elected. Otherwise, we don’t have a reason to vote for you. The charm offensive will take you only so far.

What are your issue priorities? Do you have a plan for carrying them out? Can you be specific without boring us with too many details? What would a Carson presidency look like? Do not leave those questions open to interpretation.

Dr. Carson, I believe you would be an unbeatable general election candidate, no matter who the Democrats nominated. However, successfully navigating the primary process is not easy, no matter how big of a star you are. Just ask Fred Thompson.

Steve Deace is a nationally syndicated talk show host and author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” Twitter: @SteveDeaceShow 


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