On Tuesday, the top nine Republican candidates battled it out for a fifth time, in the last Republican debate of the year. It was focused largely on national security and terrorism, and heading in, Ben Carson made it clear that he was ready for a thorough discussion — though this subject hasn't been seen as one of his strengths up to this point. It came as a surprise, then, that Ben Carson's closing statement emphasized a familiar message about his values, rather than a fervent call to action on national security.
On Tuesday morning, Carson's campaign posted a video to YouTube that showed him traveling to the debate, which took place on that night in Las Vegas. In the 19-second video, Carson says, "I sure hope we're going to get a lot of questions about foreign affairs and national defense. If so, slam dunk." Conveniently, Carson also released on Tuesday his plan to tackle ISIS and make America safer. Called "Seven Steps to a Safer America," the plan includes a declaration of war on the Islamic State, a "war-time emergency visa and immigration policy," and the use of military and National Guard troops at the U.S.'s southern and northern borders.
Clearly, he was gearing up for a substantive debate in an area in which he has previously fallen short (remember that time he said he wouldn't support a Muslim becoming president?). However, that's not what the audience got from his closing.
I've been fortunate enough to travel to 58 different countries, and I thank God every day that I was born in this country, the most exceptional country that the world has ever known, and I want to make sure that we preserve that exceptionalism for the next generation. My mother told me if I worked hard and I believed in American principles and I believed in God, anything was possible. I believe that is true and that's why I'm not anxious to give away American values and principles for the sake of political correctness.
Carson's generic statement (FYI, candidates, it's no longer unique to bash political correctness) aligned with his overall lackluster performance. Throughout the night, he spoke in his typical calm manner, and seemed overpowered by some of the other figures on the stage, like Ted Cruz and Chris Christie. After such a quiet performance, the closing statement would have been the perfect opportunity for Carson to leave America with a strong sense of his plan for national security. Ultimately, though, he played it safe and repeated the type of statement we've heard from him before: He's big on values, not "political correctness."