Ben Carson and staff go A.W.O.L. on a World War II vet

October 25, 2015

World War II veteran Arnold Flottman Image: Joplin Globe Andra Stefanoni

He’s of the generation known as the “greatest” yet as like the rest of them that share the title Arnold Flottman’s greatness is not of braggadocio but of quiet humility.  Of a life full in front of him put on hold to serve.  To do his duty, pray that he survived, and return with a sense of purpose and service to country that is as rare today as it was common then.

So it was without hesitation that after reading Andra Stefanoni’s piece on Mr. Flottman needing a ticket to Dr. Ben Carson’s Joplin book signing (World War II vet hoping to see Carson at signing, Oct.14, 2015) I took to the internet confident in my mission.

A mission that began as simple as could be.  Go to the Ben Carson for President website, select the media inquiry form, inform the campaign of Mr. Flottman’s predicament and wait to hear that the campaign would be honored to assist.

The message was simple:  World War II Vet hoping to see Carson (I embedded the story link for full context) and left both email and phone for contact back.

Two days went by and nothing.  So, back to the website I went; two more inquiries via both media and general categories – still nothing.

When I learned on Saturday that a member of the community had stepped forward with a ticket I changed the inquiry scope to hoping for a personal reach out from Dr. Carson or at the very least getting Mr. Flottman to the front of the line.  Sadly, that mission failed as well.

For an entire week Mr. Flottman’s issue was promoted directly to the Carson camp via Twitter, Facebook and his own website, and yet by the end of that week not one person from the campaign picked up on any of it.

The end result of all the effort being but a single automated email from campaign manager Barry Bennett thanking me for “reaching out to Ben!!”.  It told me where to sign up for a free bumper sticker, not to forget to share their Facebook page and of course how I could volunteer or make a donation, but not a single word on the issue at hand.

Worried I was being too critical, I reached out to others but sadly learned I was not alone.  They too had seen their inquiries answered with silence.

Millions of Americans, me included, find Dr. Carson’s personal story and professional career inspiring and deserving of the utmost respect.  Many of us though also wonder how, as remarkable as it is, Dr. Carson’s storyline translates into qualification for the Presidency of the United States.

Dr. Carson attempts to allay those concerns by telling us that he will surround himself with knowledgeable people and govern with their council.  That’s all well and good, as far as it goes.

This is the 21st century, social media management and voter engagement is no longer a secondary add-on.  It is a critical campaign component and primary indicator of a candidate’s ability to adapt and respond to fluid situations.

So just how does a campaign that can’t manage a single inquiry sent directly to the candidate across multiple platforms over several days expect to instill confidence that it should be trusted with the intricacies of a Middle East aflame and the complexities of the world’s largest economy?

When 7 days of silence regarding a World War II vet just needing a ticket to one of their own events is the best that the people surrounding Dr. Carson can do, he is in serious need of better people.  And if he truly wants to be President, he best find those people sooner rather than later.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: A version of this column first appeared in the October 18, 2015 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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