In a surprising turn of events, Dr. Ben Carson, who suspended his campaign for a month to sell his new book, has overtaken Donald Trump in Iowa. Two national polls, including the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Friday, show that Carson now has a nine point lead over the Republican front-runner Donald Trump. The retired neurosurgeon leads Trump among Republicans in Iowa 28 percent, to 19 percent. Trump said he would have to work a little harder to win back his supporters in Iowa.
This is the second poll that shows Trump slipping in Iowa. The Quinnipiac survey of GOP Iowans came out on Thursday and found that Carson had opened up an 8 percentage point lead over Trump, 28 percent to 20 percent. No one noticed because they were all glued to the TV watching the Benghazi hearings, hoping for some news.
The two polls differ on third place, however. The Register has Senator Ted Cruz with 10 percent, followed by Marco Rubio with 9 percent. In the Quinnipiac survey, their positions are reversed: 13 percent support Rubio and 10 percent favor Cruz.
Donald Trump, who had just finished bragging that he has led the GOP field for 100 days, was not pleased with the news. For the first time, he took aim at Carson. “I like Ben,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “but he cannot do with trade like I do. He can’t do with a lot of things like I do, so we’ll just have to see what happens.” Trump said that he worries that Carson is “just not going to be able to do deals with China, to be able to do deals with Japan.” At least he did not accuse Carson of having blood coming out of his “whatever.”
Instead, Trump blasted Carson for his views on immigration, accusing him of supporting amnesty. “He’s very, very weak on immigration and I’m very strong on immigration,” Trump said. “Ben Carson is very, very weak on immigration. He believes in amnesty strongly. He believes in citizenship. He’s going to give citizenship to people who are here illegally — you can’t do that.”
Carson recently suspended is active campaigning to go on the road to sell his latest book. Since he went on the book tour, Carson has surged even higher in the polls. Perhaps he is giving the term “outsider” a new meaning. Carson maintains that he is not a politician and will never be one. Only a non-politician would suspend campaigning less than three months before the voting starts. But, it seems to be working for retired surgeon.
Meanwhile, the one-time presumed nominee, Jeb Bush, has announced he is cutting back the number of staffers and cutting their pay to respond to the realities of the campaign. Bush, like all so-called establishment candidates, has not caught on. For the GOP, this election is about outsiders.
One thing to watch is how the reign of Speaker-in-Waiting Paul Ryan will affect the Republican presidential primary campaign. The honeymoon may be short-lived for Ryan. Unless John Boehner can clear the deck next week, the new Speaker will be confronted with raising the debt ceiling and passing a budget shortly after the coronation. If Ryan does not force the nation into default, and if he pushes a budget that will not shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, the honeymoon with the Freedom Caucus may end abruptly.
So, don’t fret about the Benghazi hearing being over, there is plenty of drama ahead.