Retired Army Major Gen. Robert F. Dees and long-time Republican operative Ed Brookover sit in an Arlington, Virginia office building with one clear task: getting Ben Carson’s presidential campaign back on track.
After a holiday staff shakeup resulting in the departure of three top advisers, Brookover and Dees have been promoted into leading positions -- campaign manager and campaign chairman, respectively.
The decision to make changes to the Republican candidate’s staff came after a “deep dive” into Carson’s operation, which showed serious flaws, the candidate told ABC News this past Sunday.
Dees, who served 31 years in the U.S. Army and is the Director of the Institute for Military resilience at Liberty University, a non-profit Christian University in Lynchburg, Virginia, met Carson for the first time in Houston last February. The men had a four-hour dinner and a couple of weeks later Carson asked Dees to join the campaign as his national security adviser.
“We saw that we had a real same world view, same thought process,” Dees said of the Houston visit in an interview with ABC News. “People say he doesn’t know policy, that’s just the opposite…we just need to get that message out there.”
Brookover has over 30 years of experience in campaign politics and was introduced to Carson by some of his supporters before he launched his campaign.
The campaign will shift to highlight Carson’s differences with the GOP field, specifically focusing on his policy positions.
“Dr. Carson likes an Ed Brookover who was a college football quarterback and makes things happen, calls plays and orchestrates,” Dees said. “I’ve spent my whole life integrating combat power in a military sense, integrating resources to achieve a focused effect and the desired results in the timeline we have.”
Dees and Brookover described the campaign’s change of direction in one word: "operating."
“I’m used to operating and Dr. Carson recognized that he needed operators,” Dees told ABC News. “Ed’s an operator, I’m an operator.”
The biggest challenge ahead? The first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. With 27 days left, all eyes are on the Hawkeye state where Carson will be spending much of this month.
“We need to do well in Iowa because we believe that the voters there have an affinity for him,” Brookover said. “What doing well remains to be seen on Feb 1, but we’re ready for post-Iowa.”