Dr. Carson is Convinced to Run, Ben, Run

As the ultimate outsider, with zero experience in politics, is he what Americans want to clean up Washington, D.C.?

By Rachel Alexander Published on May 5, 2015

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson officially entered the Republican presidential primary today, becoming the only black candidate in the race. Unlike the Democrats, whose major candidates are all white, the Republicans are putting up several minority candidates this year. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are Cuban, and Bobby Jindal, whose parents were Indian immigrants, is likely to enter the race.

Announcing from the Detroit Music Hall in his hometown, Carson launched his campaign with a theme of “Heal, Inspire, Revive.” Relatively new to politics, he told the cheering audience, “I’m not even asking people to vote for me. I’m just asking people to listen. The real pedigree we need to heal this country is someone who believes in our Constitution.”

The Seventh-Day Adventist joins a growing group of GOP candidates who appeal to the conservative Christian GOP base. Sprawled across Carson’s website is the statement, “Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams.” He has written six bestselling books, published by the Christian publishing company Zondervan. He was not shy about his faith in his announcement speech, saying,  “If God ordains that we get into White House, we’re going to change the government into something more like a well-run business.”

Carson catapulted onto the national political scene in 2013 when he criticized Barack Obama’s nationalization of healthcare at the National Prayer Breakfast, with Obama sitting merely ten feet away. In October 2013, he called Obamacare “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Since then, FOX News has hired him as a political commentator, and a “Run, Ben, Run” movement started to draft him as a candidate, raising $13 million so far.

Carson is the ultimate outsider, with zero experience in elected office. He did not identify with any party until November 2014, when he joined the Republican Party in order to vote in the midterm primaries.

“Listen and think for yourself,” he urged listeners. “Don’t listen to pundits and the people who try to control everything.” His speech was peppered with the plainspokenness that he has become known and loved for, “I gotta tell you something: I’m not politically correct. I’m not gonna be politically correct, because I’m not a politician and I don’t wanna be a politician.”

Raised in a single-parent home in Detroit with little money and bad grades, he turned his life around academically when he discovered how much he enjoyed reading. His mother would require her two sons to turn off the TV, read two books each week from the Detroit Public Library and write a report on them, even though she could not read. She refused to accept government assistance, because she knew others who had done so, becoming unable to leave it.

Carson opposes welfare, saying in his speech, “I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people.” He has said that as a teenager he had an anger problem. After reading the Biblical book of Proverbs, he never had anger issues again. Carson and his wife Candy started the Carson Scholars Fund in 1994, which established Carson Reading Rooms for youth in 14 states around the nation.

He worked his way up to director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Maryland, where he remained for 29 years until his retirement in 2013. In 1987, after 22 hours of surgery, leading a team of 140, he became the first surgeon to successfully separate twins who were born conjoined at the head.

The Pulse 2016, which rated the candidates on how they handled the Indiana religious freedom law controversy, gave Carson a B. He defended the law, but did not get into specifics. He is solid on all the issues that matter to conservatives. He has said in the past that guns need to be regulated, but has since backed away from that position, affirming the Second Amendment.

Carson could help bring African-American votes to the GOP, a constituency the GOP has had difficulty attracting for many decades. Only five percent of blacks identify as Republicans, compared with 64 percent who identify as Democrats. However, 29 percent identify as Independent or otherwise, leaving room for inroads.

Can this Detroit outsider beat the rest of the pack?

Carson is inspiring; a true Horatio Alger, rags-to-riches story of how someone with little can drag himself up by his bootstraps in America. He presents a stark contrast to the privileged Obama, who attended a $17,000/year private high school in Hawaii in his youth. Additionally, no other candidate has such a powerful third party effort.  The Draft Carson movement out-fundraised the pro-Hillary Clinton PAC Ready for Hilary in the third quarter of 2014.

Unlike many of the other candidates, he has little baggage since he is so new to politics. On the other hand, his inexperience means he may not have what it takes to run a national ground game and fund-raise, or persuade voters that he has sufficient experience to excel in the Oval Office. There is some concern that his low-key style won’t stand up to some of the other candidates. He is jumping into the race a little late, missing out on some early opportunities in Iowa, although supporters say they have drafted leaders in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. He reportedly has not started making inroads in New Hampshire yet. His campaign has stated they intend to raise $65 million by February, which is ambitious, but the kind of money necessary to run a top-tier race.

Carson is trending in the middle of the pack of GOP candidates, according to polling. In such a packed field of conservatives, the stars will have to align just right for him to garner the nomination, but it’s not impossible. He may be the ultimate outsider, but perhaps that is what Americans have decided is needed to Washington inside out.

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