Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, on Friday morning said that Dr. Ben Carson has made a serious effort to wrap his head around foreign policy issues since the retired neurosurgeon didn’t have an “understanding” of the issues in the past.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski mentioned Carson’s recent claim that the Chinese are in Syria and asked Hayden, “Are you concerned that there is a frontrunner whose foreign policy sensibilities seem to lack, to say the least?”
“I wouldn’t say sensibilities,” Hayden responded, adding that he had a phone conversation with Carson a couple months ago. “His instincts are all right. But this is a database with which he’s very unfamiliar.”
Hayden then addressed Carson’s claims about China and Syria, suggesting that Carson probably exaggerated during his comments on the matter.
“I think he was trying to say when we’re absent from the playing field, we leave a vacuum in which other powers may enter. Now, in this particular case, the Russians are there. I would characterize the Chinese as merely interested. And so I think he overstated the data in that point,” he said.
Mika then asked, “And when you had that time with him, did you gather he had the ability to wrap his head around these issues?”
Hayden said that Carson asked “good questions” and engaged in an “honest dialogue.”
“What you see publicly is what you get personally: A well-meaning, serious, bright man trying to understand things which his life experience really hasn’t given him understanding about in the past,” Hayden said.
Watch Hayden’s interview on “Morning Joe” via MSNBC. He begins discussing Carson near the 6:50 mark.