Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Friday that he respects GOP presidential candidate Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonOvernight Health Care: Fauci says 'bizarre' efforts to discredit him only hurt the White House | Alabama to require face masks | House panel probes 'problematic' government contracts Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Carson calls for local leaders to 'condemn vandalization of statues,' 'dismantle autonomous zones' MORE’s foreign policy intuition.

Asked who among the 2016 Republican field seemed to have a solid foreign policy understanding, the four-star general and former National Security Agency director singled out the retired neurosurgeon.

“I must admit I had one lengthy phone call with Dr. Carson about two months ago,” Hayden told host Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”


“His instincts are all right,” he added. "He asked the right questions, he had good follow-on questions.”

Hayden defended Carson’s claim earlier this week that China is directly involved in the Syrian civil war.

“I think that he was trying to say that when we’re absent from the playing field, we leave a vacuum in which other powers may enter,” he said of Carson’s Syria remarks.

Carson suggested during Tuesday night’s fourth GOP presidential debate that China is presently active within Syria’s borders.

“We also must recognize that it’s a very complex place,” he said of Syria during the contest in Milwaukee. "You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there.”

Top Carson adviser Armstrong Williams, meanwhile, defended his candidate’s assertions during an interview Wednesday.

“From our own intelligence and what Dr. Carson’s been told by people who are on the ground [and] involved in that region of the world, it has been told to him many times over and over, that the Chinese are there,” he said on MSNBC.