Hillary’s Hard-Hitting Hipster

These days, when Mr. Carson sees Mr. Obama’s noisy supporters shouting antiestablishment rhetoric on the campaign trail, he cuttingly points out to reporters that they remind him of the Dean campaign.

In 2004, the flameout of the Dean campaign so dejected Mr. Carson that he nearly left politics. He tried to combine his passions for Democratic politics and music by working briefly at a political advocacy group called Music for America and attending concerts in his spare time at the Mercury Lounge with Mr. Wolfson. He subsequently worked for New York’s ill-fated Olympic bid.

Then Mr. Clinton’s office called.

Attached to the former president’s side as the communications director for the Clinton Global Fund, Mr. Carson visited scores of countries and now has an insert in his passport for stamps. Mr. Clinton’s passport, he said, “is like a bible.” Before sitting down at the Mandalay, Mr. Carson spent a half an hour on the phone with the former president, though he wouldn’t give the slightest indication of what they talked about. When asked what the job was like, he answered vaguely, “Playing cards riding in cars, traveling the world with President Clinton. That sentence says it all. It’s an amazing job.”

Even from his perch at the do-gooder Clinton foundation, Mr. Carson had the opportunity to indulge in some hardball politics, playing a major role in pummeling ABC for airing a docudrama that essentially blamed Clinton administration bungling for the Sept. 11 attacks.

“It was like a return to what I’ve done,” said Mr. Carson, adding, “This, I know how to do.”

He also helped push GQ into a decision to spike a not-entirely-favorable piece about Hillary Clinton, using the threat of withholding access to Bill Clinton for a subsequent cover story.

These days, of course, there’s no shortage of heavy action.

While Mr. Obama has criticized the Clinton campaign’s tough tactics, Mr. Carson is unapologetic. He said that to beat the Republicans, “you have to be as tough as they are in order to win. But there is a difference between nasty and tough. If a mugger confronts you in an alley, you don’t mug him back; you punch him in the face and stop him.”

Then, after a pause, Mr. Carson said, “You can’t hope him away from you.”