Ben Carson's campaign is pushing back against a report that he is having difficulty mastering foreign policy.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that a Carson adviser said the Republican presidential candidate cannot seem to grasp foreign affairs and national security. Carson has erroneously stated that China is involved in Syria and could not name the coalition of countries he would have fight the Islamic State.

"Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” Duane R. Clarridge,who advises Carson on terrorism and national security, told The Times. Clarridge told the paper that Carson has to have weekly briefings on world affairs so "we can make him smart."

Carson spokesman Doug Watts hit back against the story, saying that Clarridge has "incomplete knowledge" of Carson's daily and weekly briefings on national security matters from former military and government officials.

Clarridge, Watts said, "is coming to the end of a long career of serving our country.  Mr. Clarridge's input to Dr. Carson is appreciated but he is clearly not one of Dr. Carson's top advisers."

Watts then hit the newspaper for talking to Clarridge.

"For the New York Times to take advantage of an elderly gentleman and use him as their foil in this story is an affront to good journalistic practices," Watts said.