Ben Carson, the mild-mannered neurosurgeon running for President of the United States says he will not engage Donald Trump in a war of words, but he threw down the gauntlet earlier this week on the subject of faith.
At a rally on Wednesday in Anaheim, California, when asked to name the biggest difference between himself and Trump, Carson said, “I’ve realized where my success has come from and I don’t in any way deny my faith in God,” and then went on to cite some Bible verses.
Trump, who last week said that he was “hoping for Ben to really hit me at some point, because I love to counterpunch,” leaped at the opportunity to push back.
“Wow, I am ahead of the field with Evangelicals (am so proud of this) and virtually every other group, and Ben Carson just took a swipe at me,” he tweeted Wednesday night.
But is Trump going to push this subject too far?
Thursday on CNN’s New Day, Trump said Carson is “not a great religious figure. But for him to criticize me on my faith is absolutely—and for him to read from the Bible in his memory—it looked like he had memorized it about two minutes before he went on stage…Ben Carson is not going to be your next president, that I can tell you.”
But Trump is beginning to raise hackles among evangelical voters—a core constituency in Iowa, in particular—for the flip way he has discussed religion.
I’ve had a few discussions with people regarding the potential success of anyone looking to take on Trump in a war of words. My own opinion is that anyone doing it will just look stupid for getting down in the mud with him. Trump is going to win because he doesn’t care how he looks. He’s absolutely going to fight dirty and most people, politicians in particular, aren’t used to fighting a street fight. Just my opinion.
However, when Trump characterizes himself as a devout Presbyterian and a regular churchgoer, I have to ask, really?
At a Leadership Conference in Iowa, Trump said he had never asked God for forgiveness. “If I do something wrong I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t,” he said, shocking many religious conservatives who believe that God’s forgiveness is essential to their faith.
Trump didn’t even seem to realize that it was offensive when he made this comment making light of communion: “When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said.
And at an August rally in Alabama, Trump declared the Bible to be his “favorite book,” a claim he has repeated since. But asked later that month on Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect” to name his favorite Bible verse, he declined, saying, “I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal.”
But now Trump’s attacks on Carson’s faith are getting pretty personal. Calling in to Chris Cuomo’s show on CNN, Trump said “if you look at his past, which I’ve done, he wasn’t a big man of faith. All of a sudden he’s become this man of faith.
And he was heavy into the world of abortion and he was a doctor. And take a look at the hospitals where he worked. He was a doctor, check out the past, and see. All of a sudden he’s — he’s totally anti- abortion. Well, if you look back, you will find he’s a very much different Ben Carson.”
Oh, and by the way, Trump called Carson, the first neurosurgeon to separate twins conjoined at the head “an OK doctor.” Oh come ON Donald.
On “The O’Reilly Factor,” Dr. Ben Carson refused to engage in a war of words with fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump. Carson told Bill O’Reilly it wasn’t his intention to impugn Trump’s religious beliefs.
“I really don’t want to get into the mud pit. That’s not in my nature,” Carson said. “I know that the media frequently likes to stoke up these things, and they goad people into silliness.”
Carson said that he’s going to differentiate himself from the other candidates, not by putting them down, but by focusing on what he believes and what he stands for.
But will Trump’s flip comments on a subject so deeply personal and important to so many begin to chip away at his commanding lead?
Again, any candidate trying to fight Trump needs to understand he fights dirty. We’re familiar with fighting dirty to some extent from politicians like the Clintons. But Trump’s style isn’t subtle or covert. He goes straight in and pulls no punches. His own reputation seems not to be harmed at all by his tactics — just ask Megan Kelly.
But on the subject of faith, do you think maybe he’s going a little too far?
[Note: This article was written by Earl Hall]