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Surgeon Ben Carson separates campaign from Armstrong Williams

Story highlights

  • Armstrong Williams is Carson's longtime business manager
  • Carson and Williams' partnership began more than a decade ago

Washington (CNN)Armstrong Williams, the longtime business manager for Ben Carson, appeared earlier this week on Bloomberg TV criticizing a recent report questioning the retired neurosurgeon's knowledge of foreign policy.

On Thursday, Carson said Williams doesn't speak for the campaign.
    "He has nothing to do with the campaign. Nothing," Carson told reporters in Mobile, Alabama. "Armstrong can comment on his own behalf. He does not speak for the campaign at all. He does not speak for me. He speaks for himself."
    Yet in the Bloomberg interview on Tuesday, speaking for Carson appears to be exactly what Williams was doing.
    Williams offered an explanation as to why Carson froze up in a interview with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace and dodged a question about building a coalition to defeat ISIS.
    "Dr. Carson is very dismissive of the question because it was hypothetical and Dr. Carson does not answer in hypotheticals. And so he intentionally did not answer the question," Williams said on Bloomberg.
    "Dr. Carson is still on a learning curve," he continued. "There's much for him to learn. He's not perfect, he will be perfect but he continues to surround himself with people who will enhance his foreign policy credentials."
    Carson's comments about his business manager are noteworthy because since the earliest days of his campaign, Williams has appeared frequently on CNN and other media outlets discussing Carson's candidacy.
    When Carson makes a controversial comment, Williams is his most high-profile explainer-in-chief.
    Their partnership began more than a decade ago with early-morning phone calls about politics and family.
    "Whatever headlines of the day, he would delve into, he was hungry for it," Williams previously told CNN of those calls. "He was very interested in why there was a gridlock. Why both sides could not get together for what was best for America. He was always interested in the health care, the jobs, why inner city ... jobs continually leave and leave wastelands for young people and what's going to happen."
    Williams was thought by some to be Carson's most important adviser and a central figure in his rise as a leading conservative Republican candidate.
    Correction: An earlier version of this story referred incorrectly to the day Armstrong Williams appeared on Bloomberg TV. It was Tuesday, not Thursday.