It’s been just three days since the midterm elections, but it seems we already have our first Republican candidate for 2016!
Dr. Ben Carson, the uber-conservative retired pediatric neurosurgeon beloved by the Christian right, will air a 40-minute documentary introducing himself to voters in 22 states and the District of Columbia, The Washington Times reported. “A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America” is filmed and funded by Carson’s business partner, Armstrong Williams, and will follow Carson from his roots -- being born to a single-mother in Detroit -- to his world-renowned medical career and entrance into politics. It appears to be the first campaign ad of the presidential election.
“No, I don’t want to be president. Why would any sane person want to do that?” Carson protested in an interview last month with Fusion, before suggesting that he had a duty to run "with so many clamoring for me to do it.”
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Carson isn’t likely to be a mainstream candidate, but his likely entrance into the 2016 race suggests the Republican primary showdown may be pulled even further to the right. In the month of September alone he suggested the 2016 elections might not happen at all because “there may be so much anarchy going on,” likened President Obama to Hitler, and argued that evolution was an absurd “scheme.” “Give me a break,” he concluded. He has also previously argued that Obamacare was the worst thing "since slavery."
Still, he remains wildly popular in far right circles. In August, he won the Polk County, Iowa Republican Party Dinner with 62%, while Sen Ted Cruz came in second place with just 7%; in July, Carson beat Cruz at the Western Conservative Summit as well.
Carson’s biggest claims to conservative fame came in 2013, when he gave a politically charged speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in which he attacked President Obama's signature legislation right in front of him. Later that year, he was forced to cancel a high-profile commencement speech at Johns Hopkins, the institution he’s been associated with for more than three decades, after he made public remarks comparing homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia.
“There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget,” he wrote at the time.
The conservative superstar’s entrance is no surprise -- he’s been hinting at it for months. This summer, conservative outlets reported he formed two super PACs -- the first, One Nation, began laying the groundwork for a campaign in early August; later that month, he told Fox News he was raising money for himself and other conservatives through his “USA First PAC.” On Tuesday, Carson filed paperwork to officially switch his party registration from independent to Republican, saying he identified with the party’s ideals and didn’t think it was smart to run for office on an independent ticket.
Carson has never held elected office, but on Fox News, he argued that this wouldn’t be a problem.
“There’s no question that I haven’t spent a lot of time in government, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make sure you have people around you who have spent that time,” he said. “I think the thing that is actually more important is wisdom and understanding and knowing how to use facts.”
He compared his inexperience in government to performing complex, historic operations -- perhaps like when he famously separated twins joined at the head in 1987, the first time such an operation was performed where both patients had lived.
“When I conducted some very complex operations, including things that hadn’t been done before, it required pulling people together, some of whom knew a lot of things that I didn’t know about different areas, but being able to coordinate those things and merge them into something that was successful,” Carson said.