Carson aims to shore up doubts about his national security credentials

Carson aims to shore up doubts about his national security credentials
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Republican presidential candidate Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonVA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report Homelessness rises for first time since recession Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is the right call MORE is trying to prove he is tough and knowledgable enough to be commander in chief as his poll numbers fall amid voter doubts about his national security credentials.
 
"Some people think that every president has to be a foreign affairs expert, has to know everything about the history of Russia," Carson told supporters Wednesday evening at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
 
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"Well, it's not true." 
 
"But you've got to have people around you who know everything about the history of Russia and you have to know how to use that information," the retired neurosurgeon added.
 
"It doesn't mean you don't need to know a lot of stuff," he said, "and you know I've been spending a lot of time boning up on stuff."
 
Confronting the growing doubts about his fitness to fight terrorism amid the intensified voter scrutiny following last month’s Paris terrorist attacks, Carson ditched his biographical stump speech that has thrilled crowds for so long. 
 
Instead, he gave a foreign policy speech, even using PowerPoint-style slides at one point. 
 
Carson showed photos from his weekend visit to Jordan, a visit designed to persuade voters that he has command over foreign policy. 
 
He said the Jordanian refugee camps have plenty of capacity and provide a "perfect alternative" to accepting Syrian refugees into America. He also mentioned that there are "beautiful" hospital facilities languishing, unused, in Jordan.
 
Carson also emphasized the military advice he was receiving from top generals. 
 
It was an indirect rebuke to recent comments made by a Carson adviser who told The New York Times that the candidate was struggling to grasp foreign policy and had failed to absorb "one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East."
 
Carson's poll numbers have been falling in recent weeks, and his campaign acknowledges that voter concerns about his foreign policy knowledge is to blame. 
 
On Nov. 4, Carson moved ahead of billionaire Donald Trump in the RealClearPolitics average of GOP national polls. But after the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, voters began to focus on national security, and Carson's numbers have dropped nearly 6 percentage points in the two weeks since. 
 
Carson has also fallen behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in two recent Iowa polls — the state he most needs to win to become the favored candidate of evangelical Christians.
 
While Carson offered some specifics Wednesday night — he wants to use Jordanian refugee camps to house more Syrian refugees and likes the idea of a missile shield in Eastern Europe to take on Russian President Vladimir Putin — his national security prescriptions were still mostly broad and blunt.
 
"There will be less misery if you just go ahead, chop off the head, and move ahead to the next thing," Carson said of his approach to terrorists. 
 
At other points in the speech, Carson asked the audience to contemplate a nuclear attack on the United States, terrorists detonating dirty bombs, and cyber warfare. 
 
He insisted that he is hard-headed enough to confront such threats.
 
Sounding similar to Trump, who says the U.S. has become too politically correct in the way it fights terrorists, Carson said it was OK to "fight dirty people with dirty tactics."
 
Yet while Trump has suggested a number of dirty tactics that he would like to use, such as taking out terrorists' families and bring back Bush-era waterboarding, Carson did not elaborate much on what his dirty tactics might entail. 
 
"Some people say to me, 'you're too soft, you're too nice,' " Carson said. 
 
"I am nice. But that doesn't mean I'm soft. You know, there's a difference between being soft and being nice."