Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said his critics can “speculate all they want” about his decision to reject CNBC’s initial format for the next Republican presidential debate, saying it was “too long” compared to other debates in the 2012 election cycle.
“Three hours is too long, it’s just too long and you look at all the interviews – all the debates that were done in 2012 and there were multiple ones and they were not more than 2 hours long. It’s just too long,” Carson told PJ Media in Alexandria, Va., after meeting with supporters and campaign volunteers.
Carson and fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump jointly threatened to boycott the debate if CNBC did not change the rules.
Carson was asked for his response to critics who suggest they wanted to avoid delving into foreign policy during the debate. Carly Fiorina told Fox last week that Trump and Carson are “worried about answering questions for three hours.”
“Hey, they can speculate all they want. I told you what the reason was. It’s too long, plus we want to make sure we have the ability to make statements and not just to answer their questions,” Carson responded.
According to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the updated format includes a two-hour debate including commercials, an open-ended question for each candidate in the beginning and a 30-second closing statement.
Fiorina charged that the demand of Trump and Carson for prepared statement time is “what politicians do.”
“So, honestly, here are two outsiders, supposedly. Donald Trump and Ben Carson, they sound a lot like politicians tonight to me,” she said.
In Alexandria, Carson was also asked for his reaction to Trump’s recent comments about former President George W. Bush and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“He was president, OK?” Trump said. “Blame him or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
A reporter summarized Trump’s comments, and Carson said, “I think he said it happened on his watch. Did he actually say he was blaming him for it? I didn’t hear the statement but I would be surprised if he blamed him for it, that wouldn’t make much sense, would it?”
The reporter said to Carson, “You don’t think George Bush has any responsibility for the attacks on 9/11?”
“I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that he’s responsible for it,” he responded.
Carson also explained how his experience on the board of directors at Costco and Kellogg has helped shape his economic policies.
“My time at both Kellogg and Costco obviously had me working very consistently with both national and international economic policies, understanding a lot about the economies in lots of different countries and also understanding the whole retail market and how capitalism works. You get a real inside deal on that and I think that’s an important thing to know,” he told PJ Media.