Why Gaffes Hurt Ben Carson, But Not Donald Trump

Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., this month, Donald Trump declined to commit to an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Ben Carson, among other things, mispronounced the name of the terrorist group Hamas as "hummus" at the same gathering.

Neither Republican presidential hopeful's address to the group went over particularly well. But for Carson it was part of a growing narrative that verbal miscues were suddenly derailing the retired neurosurgeon's campaign, while Trump remains impervious to them.

Republicans told the Washington Examiner that there is a big difference between Trump's gaffes and Carson's. So far, they said, Trump's missteps aren't undermining his supporters' confidence in the way Carson's are.

"No matter what you think of what he has to say, Trump exudes confidence," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "Carson gets that deer in the headlights look when he makes a mistake or doesn't know what he's talking about. The voters might not know that you're wrong about an issue, but they will recognize a deer in the headlights."

O'Connell also noted that Trump can be adept at walking back untenable positions without acknowledging he has done so. When he proposed his Muslim ban, it was unclear whether American citizens and military personnel would be affected. He has gradually limited its scope in subsequent interviews and emphasized more that it would be a temporary measure, all while insisting that this was always the case.

Read more from W. James Antle III at The Washington Examiner

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