Ben Carson has proved that an insult from Donald Trump doesn’t have to be the kiss of death.
While several GOP candidates have felt the sting of Donald Trump invectives in their dwindling poll numbers, the former neurosurgeon has retained a strong presence in the field despite being his latest target.
Carson once successfully performed a 28-hour operation in which he separated conjoined twins. Yet, his accomplishments didn’t seem to amount to much in Trump’s eyes, who summarily dismissed Carson as an “OK doctor,” producing a shocked look from CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
A new Washington Post poll proves that voters don’t agree. While Trump is still at the top of the field, Carson, who has considerably less money and name recognition, is surging in second with 20 percent.
Another GOP contender has benefited from Washington outsider status and is in good form to ward off Trump's offenses. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s rise in the Republican field was ignited in part by her dominating performance in the first Republican “JV” debate. Her climb eventually convinced CNN to change its debate criteria and allow her to partake in the main event.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Trump showed no hesitancy in insulting his only female GOP opponent:
Look at that face! Would anybody vote for that?” He has said that listening to Mrs. Fiorina’s voice gives him a “massive headache.”
Trump defended his strange rhetoric by insisting he meant to criticize her record at HP, where she was “viciously” fired, he added.
Trump said he will raise the same critiques against her at Wednesday’s debate in California:
“I’m not going to call her honey,” Mr. Trump said in an interview last week. But he added of Mrs. Fiorina: “Look, she’s only got 3 percent in the polls, so in order to get recognition, I think she’ll start hitting me. So I think she’s fair game.”
While Carson and Fiorina seem to remain in good standing despite bickering with the businessman, several other GOP candidates have not been able to overcome the attacks. Gov. Rick Perry, who especially felt the wrath of Trump this summer, decided to dedicate a whole speech defining the latter as a “cancer to conservatism.” Hoping the strong pushback would gain him respect and support among voters, he instead fell in the polls and last week became the first Republican to withdraw from the 2016 race.
It looks like the only friend Trump will have on stage Wednesday night is Ted Cruz.