Presidential races

Carson hires former Netanyahu aide as foreign policy adviser

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Ben Carson’s presidential campaign is bringing on a former top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a foreign policy adviser amid concerns about the retired neurosurgeon’s chops on the issue. 

George Birnbaum has worked with three Israeli prime ministers as well as its foreign minister, and has advised political leaders in Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo, Serbia and the Czech Republic. 

In a statement that noted his “pride and excitement” in joining Carson’s team, Birnbaum noted the integral relationship between America and Israel. 
 
{mosads}”Dr. Carson has a deep understanding of the challenges facing this country and a clear vision for her future,” Birnbaum, an Atlanta native, said. 
 
“Dr. Carson will be an excellent leader for America, her allies and all those who cherish freedom.”
 
Birnbaum worked on Netanyahu’s reelection earlier this year, which became a source of political sniping among Republicans and Democrats when GOP leaders invited the Prime Minister to Congress to pan the nuclear deal with Iran. Some Democrats boycotted the speech out of protest for what they saw as campaigning from Congress. 
 
The announcement’s aims are two-fold: to quell concerns about Carson’s grasp of foreign policy, and to shore up his credentials with Jewish Republicans after failing to captivate the audience at last week’s Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) Candidates Forum. 
 
A New York Times piece last month quoted a Carson foreign policy adviser describing weekly foreign policy calls to “make him smart” and framed him as struggling to understand the issues. That prompted a rebuke by the Carson campaign, which accused the Times of taking advantage of an “elderly gentleman.” 
 
Carson also stumbled as he read a speech last week at the RJC forum, a stark comparison to the off-the-cuff address by Donald Trump that immediately preceded him. 
 
The GOP candidate stumbled over the name of a Palestinian group that’s long clashed with Israel, and his speech resembled a term paper that went through a detailed history of the region.  
 
Many have ascribed his foreign policy stumbles to his recent slide at the polls. Once topping Donald Trump in national polls, the only candidate to do so since Trump announced his bid, Carson has slid back down as Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Florida) continue to rise. 
 
– This story was updated at 9:42 a.m. on Dec. 9.
Tags Ben Carson Donald Trump Marco Rubio Ted Cruz
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