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Carson Defends Foreign Policy Experience, Plans Israel Trip

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson spok during the Rising Tide Summit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.Scott Morgan/AP

(Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson vehemently pushed back against critics attacking his foreign policy credentials during an interview with Bloomberg in between campaign stops outside of Des Moines on Sunday.

Though he didn't mention his opponents by name, the typically soft-spoken Carson took political jabs at the front- runners in both parties: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

"What people forget is that it's not the loudest voice that is always the wisest voice. And we need to start looking for wisdom," said Carson, alluding to Trump.

"Also, how many people have gotten the number of 2 a.m. in the morning calls that I've gotten that are life and death issues and you have to glean the information quickly and make very, very quick decisions or somebody dies?" Carson added.


During the 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton released her famous "3 a.m." ad that questioning then-Senator Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials during their bitter Democratic primary battle.

Carson, who traveled to Jordan over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit a Syrian refugee camp, said that he's planning another trip to Israel sometime before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1—his second trip to the country in one year.

"Where there are problems, like with the Syrian refugees, I want to find out for myself what's going on because if we listen to the standard narrative, you know, you get either we have to take in tens of thousands of these people or we're heartless individuals," Carson said. "Those are not the only two choices. And it became very clear going over there that there's another choice, which demonstrates our humanity—that we do have a heart, but also demonstrates that we have brains—and that is take care of them in the refugee camps."

Carson's comments come as his critics have questioned his preparedness on national security—an issue thrust to the front of voters' minds following the terrorist attack in Paris and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. While Trump has gotten a bump in the polls following both incidents, Carson has dipped.


The retired neurosurgeon was adamant that he was "the only candidate" running who has saved anybody's life.

"People are rightly concerned about our protection. What are we going to do? What are we going to do in the Middle East? What kind of leadership capabilities do we have? And obviously, you know, they listen to people who say, 'Well, you've only been a doctor, so you obviously don't know how to provide any kind of leadership,'" Carson said. "I think I can safely say I'm the only one whose ever saved anybody's life."