Ben Carson Tries To Weather The Storm

Ben Carson is seeking to weather a barrage of media scrutiny and attacks from fellow candidates that have intensified with his ascension to the top of GOP polls.

The soft-spoken, retired neurosurgeon is pushing back hard at accusations that he has exaggerated stories about his life to craft a personal narrative that resonates with supporters.

Carson’s bid for the presidency, once considered a long shot, has steadily gained momentum throughout the fall. After a slow and steady rise, he this week eclipsed Donald Trump in a closely watched average of national polls for the first time.

With the front-runner status has come the most intense scrutiny of Carson’s political career.

And on Friday, Carson found himself in a firestorm when Politico reported that his campaign had admitted “fabricating” the offer of a full scholarship to West Point.

It’s far too early to tell whether the stories will damage Carson, who is now a favorite to win the Iowa caucuses.

"Carson can certainly weather the storm, because the GOP electorate finds him so likable," said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.

But, O'Connell added, "If Carson loses that likability factor, his bid for the nomination is toast."

And while Carson has taken a more freewheeling approach to interviews, O’Connell said his campaign would have to be more disciplined going forward.

"Presidential candidates only get so many verbal mulligans, and the Carson camp has literally used most of them up," O’Connell said.

Read more from Jesse Byrnes at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy