Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson lost two top campaign aides Thursday amid internal tensions, reports NBC News.
Campaign Manager Barry Bennett and Communications Director Doug Watts have both resigned with Watts releasing a statement:
Barry Bennett and I have resigned from the Carson campaign effective immediately. We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status. Having just announced raising $23m for the 4th Q, more than any other Republican candidate, and passing 1 million contributions and over 600 mm unique donors since March, we are proud of our efforts for Dr Carson and we wish him and his campaign the best of luck.
NBC News conducted a phone interview with Bennett who "blamed acrimony within the campaign" aimed at "Carson's close confidante, Armstrong Williams." Bennett indicated that Williams was "undercutting any good news we had" which led to new problems, he said.
As is noted in the report, Carson has fallen in the polls since October, when he was leading with 29 percent, to just at 11 percent by mid-December.
Bennett said Carson pleaded with him to "take the day to think it over." But to no avail.
Another source "familiar with the campaign's internal workings" told NBC that Williams has been an "ongoing problem since day one" and said all of the drops in the polls and latest fundraising attempts are "all self-inflicted wounds" that he created.
Armstrong, Carson's business manager, says he holds "no ill will" towards Bennett or Watts and explains the rift as something found within any family.
"I knew they had issues with me," he said, adding, "we worked around them."
Though Carson and Williams are close, Williams is not officially a part of his presidential campaign.
Carson announced that retired U.S. Army Major General Bob Dees will become his campaign chairman and senior strategist Ed Brookover will take helm as the campaign manager. Holding out for hope, Carson released the following statement in reaction to the shakeup:
As we enter a new phase of the campaign cycle, it is necessary to invigorate my campaign with a strategy that more aggressively shares my vision and world-view with the American people. I commend Barry Bennett and Doug Watts for their efforts to help me share my vision for America. Over a year ago, hundreds of thousands of Americans encouraged me to listen to the call and seek the office of president of the greatest nation the world has ever known. I am ready to be president and believe that my unique experience and background is what is needed to heal, inspire and revive America.