NEW YORK — (CNN) Ben Carson pushed back Wednesday against reports that said he was considering a major shakeup to his campaign staff, though he did not dispute the possibility that changes to his operation could be coming soon.
Carson, who has lost his foothold as one of the GOP field’s leaders, appeared to be leading a troubled campaign on Wednesday when The Washington Post and The Associated Press — both of which interviewed the candidate — reported that the retired neurosurgeon was considering changes to his presidential campaign, including senior staff assignments.
But speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” Wednesday evening, Carson said the stories had been overhyped, repeatedly calling out the Post for its “sensationalism” and insisting that no changes had been finalized.
“The Washington Post, quite frankly, had their story already written before they talked to me,” Carson claimed, later calling out one of the reporters by name. “And they were convinced that I was gonna fire everybody and we were going to just go in a completely different direction, and that’s absolutely not true.”
Earlier Wednesday, however, Carson told CNN in a statement released by his campaign that he was “refining some operational practices and streamlining some staff assignments to more aptly match the tasks ahead.”
And the retired neurosurgeon did not materially object to Lemon that reassignments or at least pay cuts could come.
“The key word there is ‘may.’ We’re always going to be looking at it. We’re always going to be evaluating how people are performing” he told Lemon. “No one is ever 100% guaranteed that they’re always going to be there.”
He added: “I am asking members of my team to making sure that all of their salaries are alignment with what would be normal for the job functions they had.”
Carson, once a leading Republican candidate, has fallen to 10% in the latest CNN/ORC poll, which ties him for a distant third place with Marco Rubio, and well behind front-runner Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who is in second place. CNN previously reported that Carson’s campaign was in crisis and that the unorthodox structure of the neophyte politician’s campaign was proving to be a liability.
Carson, calling himself a “maverick” and misunderstood, also told Lemon that he had full confidence in his campaign, stressing that only a team of his caliber could elevate him to his position in the Republican race.
“As things have gone on and as we’ve gotten bigger and as there are more challenges, I’ve had to become more involved,” he said. “I think the people that I have are spectacular. I would wonder who else could get someone who is an outsider, who has no organization, to this point, this quickly.”
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