SPRING ARBOR, Michigan — The controversy over Dr. Ben Carson's comments about Islam's compatibility with the U.S. Constitution is proving to be a fundraising asset for the neurosurgeon's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
On Monday, 2016 Committee, the super PAC supporting Carson, sent an email asking supporters to back his response to "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd that he could not advocate a Muslim to be president because Islam is not compatible with the Constitution. Within 12 hours, about 400 people had contributed around $31,000, according to super PAC head John Philip Sousa IV.
"We've never gotten that kind of response," said Sousa, the great grandson of the famed march composer. "It broke all records."
On Wednesday morning, the campaign sent out an email from Carson, who pledged "I will not back down," according to campaign communications director Doug Watts.
In two hours, Watts said, $300,000 had flowed in from donors. The day before, Watts said that fundraising had not been affected by the controversy, saying that it had neither hurt nor helped the campaign and that Carson's comments were not a calculated attempt to appeal to his base.
At rallies in Ohio and Michigan, the controversy seems to have added special emphasis to his message against "political correctness."
At Spring Arbor University, a school affiliated with the evangelical Free Methodist Church, Carson drew applause from a crowd of about 3,000 when he said he would not give "all of my values away for the sake of political correctness."
Campaign officials say it was not Carson's intent to feud with Muslim-Americans. Carson hopes to meet with Islamic scholars and Muslim-American groups in the next two weeks.