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Did Ben Carson Just Have His Sarah Palin Moment?

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Ben Carson is having a rough week.Photograph by RJ Sangosti — Denver Post via Getty Images

Presidential hopeful Ben Carson has been surging lately, edging out Donald Trump at the top of the Republican primary polls. In a highly unusual campaign season, where Donald Trump’s enduring popularity surprised pundits, some began suggesting that the retired pediatric neurosurgeon was a viable candidate, with a shot at beating Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.

But will that optimism last? Just as Sarah Palin, another unorthodox candidate, enjoyed a spurt of popularity only to see her image damaged by press scrutiny, Ben Carson has been facing some tough questions this week.

First questions have started to swirl around Carson and controversial statements he’s made in the past. Carson doubled down, defending his rejection of evolution, and then he confirmed his thought that the pyramids of Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph as a way to store grain, rather than as a tomb for Pharaohs — a theory that is, as far as can be told, shared by no Egyptologist or archeologists. On Thursday, CNN ran a report questioninghis accounts of his violent past and faith.

Then, this morning CNN interviewer Alisyn Camerota pointedly challenged Carson on a number of statements he’s made previously.

Carson, normally the picture of calm, became very heated in his response.

Camerota played a clip from October 2014 in which Carson says that many Americans are “stupid.” Asked to elaborate, Carson told CNN that people who believe that government entitlement programs are the best way to lift people out of poverty are the “stupid” people he was referring to. (If he really meant that, by the way, he’s calling more than half of Americans stupid, who reportedly hold that belief, according to a recent poll.)

That’s when it got really tense, with Camerota asking if Carson thought people who believed in food stamps were stupid. Carson, visibly angry, claimed the interviewer was putting words in his mouth.

Then, Camerota asked Carson if he had fabricated stories of his own temper from his youth.

All-in-all, it was not a great interview for Carson, and it brought to mind Sarah Palin’s famously botched interview with Katie Couric in 2008, where she was unable to name a newspaper that she read:

Things got worse for Carson later Friday morning, when he admitted he didn’t receive a scholarship to West Point as he had previously claimed.