Want to score an ad deal with Ben Carson’s campaign? Tweet at his campaign manager.

Yesterday, Ben Carson’s campaign released an ad they said was aimed at an “urban” audience. More specifically, they released a rap. A really bad rap. A cynical, boring rap that, as Vice put it, “only a true Republican could construe as rapping.”

[iframe width=”100%” height=”450″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”no” src=”https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/231659314&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true”]

“Vote! / Inspire! / Vote! / Revive! / Ben Carson 2016 / Vote and support Ben Carrrrrrson / to be our next president it’ll be awwwwwesome! / If you wanna get America back on track / We gotta vote Carson, matter of fact!” Legendary, for sure.

As Vice continued:

The ad, which will appear on the radio in cities with large black populations such as Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, and Memphis, quickly drew criticism, both for the quality of rapping (low), as well as the balls-out cynicism—or cluelessness—it must have taken for the Carson campaign to refer to black people as “a non-traditional voting market for Republicans” who “we feel pretty strongly is ready and prepared to start working for Ben Carson” and is best reached through hip-hop, “a level they appreciate and follow.”

When Carson, who has previously said that rap music is destroying the black community by undermining faith and family values, was questioned about his ridiculously craven attempt to win over black voters, he distanced himself from the ad, saying that he “probably would have taken a little different approach.” Which is odd, given the rather prominent “I’m Ben Carson and I approve this message” at the end of the one-minute spot.

Esquire tracked down the artist who wrote the lyrical ode to Ben Carson, a self-described rapper who calls himself Aspiring Mogul. The interview is wild from start to finish, and you should read the whole thing, but I want to focus on the first question and answer:

Alright, to start out, tell me how you got involved with making this.

I recorded a song call “Black Republican” last December. In September I tweeted it at [Carson’s] campaign manager and he put it on his Facebook page. Then I got in contact with them and told them I would like to make a campaign song for Dr. Ben Carson. I sent them the music and the lyrics.

Barry Bennet, campaign manager for Carson America and rap enthusiast.

Barry Bennet, campaign manager for Carson America and rap enthusiast.

Aspiring Mogul cut a track and tweeted it at Carson’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, and that was all the vetting the campaign needed to greenlight the project. Which for a presidential campaign seems…amateur, to say the least.

But this isn’t the first time someone has gained major access to Carson’s campaign simply by tweeting at Bennett. As Politico reported last month, two brothers who run a small video production shop in Iowa were able to land a five-figure contract to shoot a social media ad for Carson via a process that, as was the case for Aspiring Mogul, started with a tweet:

Carson’s report also shows his willingness to go beyond the usual stable of GOP vendors. Andrew and Nathan Garcia scored a $35,000 deal with the Carson campaign courtesy of an unsolicited tweet to Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett.

The brothers, who run Idaho-based Second Mile Films, say they were impressed by Carson’s Aug. 6 debate performance — so they reached out to Bennett to offer their services.

Aspiring Mogul declined to tell Esquire whether he was paid for his work.

Bennet’s Twitter account has only sent 67 tweets. Ever. Ten of them were to give out his email. In some cases, he was simply interacting with supporters — linking them up to Carson’s local campaign organization, responding to scheduling requests and so on. But in other cases, he was responding to the same kinds of unsolicited business opportunities that would usually go straight to our spam folder:

Here’s the aforementioned exchange with Nathan Garcia:

Both of those exchanges, along with a third pitch for services from a user, @blackwallstreetpro (possibly Aspiring Mogul?), who has since deleted their account, ended with Bennett providing his email address.

As Business Insider wrote in a profile of Bennett earlier this year, this strategy is unconventional, but intentional:

Under Bennett’s guidance, the campaign enables supporters to connect with Carson with unusual intimacy: they can get emailed or texted questions personally answered; or huddle on his Facebook page every day; and donors can even have their children’s names posted on the campaign’s bus.

Given Carson’s case for the presidency, this decentralized campaign with a low production value (albeit sky-high overhead costs) makes sense. Carson’s campaign narrative is that the retired neurosurgeon is the candidate most qualified to be Commander-in-Chief precisely because he is the candidate least qualified to be Commander-in-Chief. It’s only fitting that his campaign would throw out its Rolodex of contacts in the political consulting world and go with whichever amateur pitches them first.

However, that kind of deference to amateurism has a cost. It’s one thing to direct supporters to their nearest campaign event or let them know how they can get a bumper sticker (although one would think a campaign manager would be slightly busier); it’s another thing entirely to use Twitter a vetting process for advertisements that cost tens of thousands of dollars and define your campaign. Because for all the flack the consulting class takes for mucking up our political process and dumbing it down at the same time with cookie-cutter campaign after cookie-cutter campaign, it would only have taken one halfway decent consultant to listen to Aspiring Mogul’s fourth grade poem set to a beat and say “thanks but no thanks.” Instead, Bennett allowed Carson’s campaign to reinforce the tokenism at the core of his racial appeal.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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14 Responses to “Want to score an ad deal with Ben Carson’s campaign? Tweet at his campaign manager.”

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  3. BeccaM says:

    West Point was the place. Admission and ‘full scholarship’ after impressing and speaking at length with General William Westmoreland at a dinner was Carson’s claim.

    West Point doesn’t require scholarships to attend and a routine check showed that Carson had never applied nor been sponsored or accepted.

    Hence a lie compounded and exposed by ignorance, yes.

  4. mf_roe says:

    Caught some of Armstrong’s snake oil on C-SPAN a few days ago. I agree, he is the puppet-master to this Carson Sock Puppet.. Ben’s TURD blossom.

  5. mf_roe says:

    Actually, I held a ROTC Scholarship back in the ’60’s. The Military gave scholarships to attend college at public / private schools and even then you paid for it by obligated service. Carson simply is IGNORANT of the nature of the transaction which based on his behavior implies just another LIE from a pathetic example of someone who chooses belief over reason.

  6. mhandrh says:

    The man behind the candidate, however, is Armstrong Williams, who is not on the official payroll, but is a “package deal” with Carson. Armstrong is an ethically challenged grifter who manages to surface within Republican circles with authority. “It’s a package deal, no question about it,” Carson told The Hill.

  7. BeccaM says:

    You’re correct, the U.S. military academies aren’t free-free. It’s just that Carson claimed he was offered a full scholarship when such things do not exist because the academies do not charge tuition.

  8. Doug105 says:

    In Carson and Huckabee’s case it’s to raise or at least maintain their value on speaking and book tours they both make millions from christian sheep doing this. That they may poll high says so much about the teavangelist takeover of the republican party.

  9. nicho says:

    We need to understand that being a gifted(?) brain surgeon does not make you a genius. We have been conditioned to think that doctors are demi-gods and that brain surgeons are full-fledged gods.

    They are not.

    Doctors are smart. They have a lot of knowledge, but very specialized knowledge. They know all about biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. But that’s about it. They are not usually well schooled in history, economics, political theory, literature, art, etc. As their education progresses, they spend more and more time in their field, ignoring all others.

    Someone like Carson specializes even more. He has a set of finely tuned motor skills and hand eye coordination and a superb knowledge of the human brain and the human body. That requires 26 hours a day of study and research.

    But that doesn’t make him a genius — except in his own narrow field of endeavor. It gives him no special knowledge apart from that. He is, in effect, a nerd. He’s no different than Brad the IT Guy who can come to your computer, open it up, and then unwire it and rewire it, replacing parts and adjusting your software — all with his eyes closed. He spends all his time reading about, arguing about, and playing with computers. He is a genius in IT. That does not qualify him to be president of the US.

  10. mf_roe says:

    The “tell” on the West Point lie is very simple. Ask anyone who ever attended one of our military academies.if they were on “scholarship” and they will explain It is an “Appointment” and there is an obligation to serve in the military service for four years upon completion of the program. The Academies are NOT FREE EVER! you pay with obligated service, trying to skip out on the deal at the end is not recommended. Carson simply has a rich fantasy life unsupported by the intellect to research accurate elaboration. Its all the fault of his illiterate mother who could not read his “Book Reports” she couldn’t ask questions so Ben never learned that lies are HIGH Maintenance and require extensive support.

  11. BeccaM says:

    Manifestly unqualified to be president. Now we’re finding out he really is a life-long pathological liar who’s anecdotes would cause Tommy O’Flannagan to remark, “Guy, you went too far. And my wife, Morgan Fairchild says so, too.”

    – Popeye’s incident — police say it never happened.
    – Violently assaulting some classmate named Jerry with a padlock, to the point of drawing blood — none of Carson’s classmates can remember anything of the sort, including the ones named Jerry.
    – Attempting to stab friend ‘Bob’ or some random bully classmate with a hunting knife or a pocket knife, either due to a radio dispute or just because — nobody named Bob remembers this nor does anyone in his school…and now, after decades, Ben’s changed the story to a helpfully anonymous ‘close relative.’
    – Blatantly lied about having no connection whatsoever to that Mannatech fraudulent cures company.
    – And now he (or rather, his campaign) has been forced to admit lying about another story he’s long been telling repeatedly. The tall tale about being admitted to West Point (they have no record of him applying) with a full scholarship (um, U.S. military academies are free) at the behest of General Westmoreland after a long dinner together (Carson attended a group banquet along with other Detroit public school ROTC members where he apparently exchanged a few words with Westmoreland, but that was all).

    I suspect by time we get to Thanksgiving, if not sooner, Carson’s poll numbers are gonna implode and he’ll wander off to shill his latest book…which clearly now ought to be moved from the autobiography section over to ‘Fiction.’ Maybe it can be filed up next to “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

    He’s done. Now what remains to be see is whether people are still stupid enough to buy his books and pay to listen to him ramble incoherently at them. Sadly, my guess is “yes, still stupid enough.”

  12. emjayay says:

    Or “My Sixty Gifted inspired by Jesus Memorable Fables”.

  13. Don Chandler says:

    What’s with this latest west point stuff? I think someone’s ship is sinking in a sea of lies. Ben’s next book is going to be, “My Sixty Memorable Fables.”

  14. therling says:

    People keep asking “why are these guys running?” Perhaps it’s because they’ve been suckered by campaign advisers who know a gravy train when they see one?

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