Hillary Clinton might think she knows what it is like to be “dead broke,” but even the odds-on favorite to win the Democrats’ nomination for president would have to admit she could learn something from Dr. Ben Carson.
His mother became a single parent after discovering Carson’s father was a bigamist who had another family on the side. She took her children to Boston and moved in with relatives.
“It was a typical tenement dwelling,” Carson recalled, “with boarded-up windows and rats and roaches. In the more upscale areas they called them ‘water bugs’ but we knew what they were.”
The neurosurgeon, who made his name by separating conjoined twins joined at the head, told his audience in Detroit today about growing up with “sirens, gangs and murders” in his neighborhood.
“Our older cousins were both killed,” Carson said as he announced his GOP presidential primary candidacy. “And I even remember when our favorite drug dealer was killed. He was our favorite because he always gave us candy.”
If any of the presidential candidates on either side of the ballot truly understands poverty, “dire poverty,” as he described it, it has to be Carson.
That must be why Carson is offended by those who say he wants to eliminate the “safety nets” that helped him as a child.
“That is a blatant lie,” he said.
Carson told the story of how his mother worked two and sometimes three jobs a day to stay off welfare because she didn’t want to become “dependent.”
“So, I don’t want to get rid of government safety nets for people who need them,” Carson said. “I want to cut programs that create dependency.”
“We are not doing anyone a favor when we tap them on the head and say, ‘There, there you poor little thing. We will take care of you,’” Carson added. “You know who says stuff like that? Socialists say stuff like that.”
Carson also said his critics were mistaken to believe he is “anti-government.” His only problem with government, he explained, was that it has been allowed to expand “based on what the political class wants so they can increase their dominion and power over the people. It is time for the people to rise up and take the government back.”
The speech was not flawless. Carson started to introduce the top members of his campaign team, but for a moment couldn’t remember their names.
Still, Carson’s audience cheered at all the right places from the beginning of his speech when he announced, “I am Ben Carson and I am a candidate for president of the United States” to the end when he said, “If God ordains that we end up in the White House, we are going change the government into something that looks something like a well-run business rather than a behemoth of inefficiency.”
While this road to the GOP presidential nomination has to be easier than the one out of the tenements of Boston and the projects of Detroit Carson has already traveled in his life, it will not be a cakewalk.
Carson was only one of three Republicans expected to join Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the GOP presidential primary race the first full week of May. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also announced her candidacy today. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to enter the race Tuesday.
Carson is at the back of the pack. There is no other way to put it.
A poll conducted in mid-April by Quinnipiac University that included 14 possible and declared candidates showed Carson’s Republican support was between 2 percent and 6 percent, at best.
It’s true that Carson had not officially entered the race at that point. But neither had Fiorina and Huckabee. Fiorina trailed Carson but only by a couple of points in most categories. Huckabee was well ahead of Carson in all categories of voters.
It isn’t only poll numbers that are going to give Carson problems. He was the first one to admit during his speech that he has often not been “politically correct.” Carson said he had no plans to change even though he will be in the microscope of a presidential campaign where everything is reported and analyzed in real time.
As evidence of that, the liberal blog Right Wing Watch posted “The Five Wildest Ben Carson Quotes: Prison Sex, Nazi America, Health Care Slavery and More” just as Carson’s campaign announcement ended in Detroit.
Michael Walsh predicted this would happen hours before Carson’s speech when he wrote “Media Knives Out For Dr. Ben Carson.”
Carson spoke with the seriousness of the doctor who tells you if you don’t lose weight you will only have six months to live when he said to the media in the audience, “You guys have an almost sacred position in a true democracy. Please don’t abuse it.”
But Carson also got a laugh from his audience when he mentioned that he and his wife, Candy, like to play pool and she usually loses.
“I should be careful,” Carson said after a pregnant pause before delivering his punchline. “There’s media here and their headline will be ‘Carson Admits He Beats His Wife.’”