In politics, timing is everything.
During an 8-minute speech at Joni Ernst's inaugural "Roast & Ride" presidential campaign forum in Iowa on Saturday, Republican Ben Carson checked his wristwatch four different times. While Carson's remarks were well-received by the crowd, the image of him glancing at the time seemed laden with metaphoric meaning, coming just a day after reports of turmoil within his campaign.
"I want to thank Senator Rubio for trading places with me, because I have a tight flight," Carson said, explaining a scheduling change and his subsequent rather rushed delivery.
The retired neurosurgeon spent much of the speech explaining his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama's signature health care program.
"The reason I don't like Obamacare is because it fundamentally changes the relationship between the people and the government in this country," Carson said to applause. "The people are supposed to be in charge, not the government. The government is not supposed to tell us what to do."
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Carson's campaign chairman, national finance chairman, deputy campaign manager and general counsel had all resigned since Carson announced his candidacy. Carson formally launched his presidential bid in Detroit on May 3.
Saturday's conservative gathering, a "first annual" event in Boone, Iowa, also drew Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
A Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll released last week found that support for Carson remains high in the Hawkeye State. He currently finds himself in a tie for second place with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, both of whom trail Walker by seven percentage points.
Carson's time-keeping had echoes of an earlier high profile watch-watching episode—in 1992, when President George H. W. Bush famously checked his timepiece on camera during a debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, during his losing bid for a second term in office.