Dr. Ben Carson header graphic

- suspended campaign Mar. 4, 2016 -   




visits to 3rdQ '15
screen grab of Carson America Exploratory Committee

Carson America

...announced May 4, 2015
...filed with the FEC on March 2, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson, official site


...leadership PAC filed with the FEC on Aug. 26, 2014.
Carson Scholars Fund
@Carson Scholars

Washington Speakers Bureau


One Vote

...super PAC filed with the FEC on March 17, 2015.

The 2016 Committee

...super PAC filed with the FEC on Oct. 23, 2014 (successor to National Draft Ben Carson...)

Conventional Wisdom
- Inspirational life story.
- Appeal to grassroots conservatives.
- Problem-solving approach from career as a doctor.
- Has never held elective office.
- Untested on the campaign trail.
- Unknown views on foreign policy and international affairs as well as other issues.

Notes, Coverage and Speeches

photo of Dr. Ben Carson at CPAC 2014 photo of Dr. Ben Carson addressing the National Press Club on May 28, 2014 photo of Dr. Ben Carson speaking at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015
March 8, 2014 - At CPAC. May 28, 2014 - Speech at the National Press Club.
Jan. 24, 2015 - Iowa Freedom Summit.

- Announcement speech at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit, MI, May 4, 2015.

- Speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, IA, Jan. 24, 2015.
- Speech at CPAC in National Harbor, MD, March 8, 2014.

- Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, Feb. 7, 2013.

2016 - Carson entered 2016 seemingly in serious trouble following a year-end campaign shake-up.  His campaign brought in several new people and made some policy announcements.  On January 4 he announced a plan to scrap the current tax code and replace it with a 14.9% flat tax (+), and on January 8 he announced his education plan (+).  However, more bad news came on January 11 when WMUR reported that New Hampshire staff of The 2016 Committee, the independent super PAC supporting Carson had quit in favor of volunteering for Cruz.  Following meager showings in the March 1 Super Tuesday contests, Carson issued a statement on March 2 saying he did not "see a political path forward." On March 4, speaking at CPAC, he suspended his campaign (+).  Carson outlined criteria for backing a candidate, but did not make an endorsement himself.  That came a week later, on March 11, when he surprised many observers by endorsing Donald Trump on March 11 (+).  Carson has emerged as an advisor to and surrogate for Trump (+).  He is also serving as honarary chairman of My Faith Votes, a 501(c)(3) that seeks "to motivate the 25 million Christians in America who are registered to vote, but who chose not to vote in the 2012 election, to vote in the upcoming elections (+)."

After a two-month exploratory period Dr. Ben Carson announced his candidacy on May 4 at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit, MI.  The event included a gospel choir and slick video (+).  "I think it's time for the people to rise up and take the government back," Carson declared.

The year started with a potentially damaging story, as BuzzFeed News reported on Jan. 6 that Dr. Carson plagiarized sections of his 2012 book America the Beautiful from various sources (>); however this did not seem to have much effect.  On March 2 Carson
became the first major Republican candidate launched a presidential exploratory committee,  In a March 3 announcement Carson stated, "While I don't claim to have all the answers to every question that plagues us, I do have a passion to reach out, listen, and build common sense solutions to the problems that are holding us back as a nation (+)." 

the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, the super PAC which propelled Carson to become an exploratory candidate, reformulated as The 2016 Committee.  The 2016 Committee had ambitious plans (1, 2, 3), and very active on the ground operations in Iowa and New Hampshire.  In October The 2016 Committee and a high dollar donation pro-Carson super PAC, Our Children's Future PAC, announced plans to collaborate (+).  Also in October Carson came out with another book, A More Perfect Union (Sentinel HC).  Further spreading Carson's message was his campaign bus, dubbed the Healer Hauler (@healerhauler).  In late October he started some TV advertising; in one ad he stated, "Together we can drain the swamp and protect our children's future."  (Additionally on message, from November, an official campaign song that hails Carson as a "Breath of Fresh Air" (+).

Carson's outsider status suited the Republican electorate and for a time he was vying with Donald Trump for the position of frontrunner in the GOP field.  However, November proved to be a difficult month.  First he endured ridicule when his belief that the pyramids in Egypt were built to store grain came to light.  Questions were raised about serveral aspects of his biography.  But perhaps the most damaging was a November 17 New York Times article headlined "Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisors Say."  The November 13 terrorist bombings in Paris significantly elevated the importance of national security, and Carson's outsider statusinexperience puts him at a big disadvantage.  Seeking to counter foreign policy doubts, Carson made a trip to visit Syrian refugee camps in Jordan
at the end of November, and he has announced he will visit Africa at the end of December.

Salon.com's Amanda Marcotte has described Carson as "basically, this cycle's version of Michele Bachmann."  Carson appeared to have a significantly larger and better organized base of supporters than did Bachmann
, including the support of The 2016 Committee, an independent super PAC.  However, on December 31 Carson's campaign manager and communications director resigned, and the next day Reuters reported that 20 staff had quit, leaving Carson's prospects for continuing very much in doubt. 

- The independent National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee proved to be a major force during the year and its "clamorings" undoubtedly helped propel Carson towards a likely campaign.  According to the FEC post-election report (through Nov. 24), the super PAC raised more than $12.2 million dollars, which is more than the Ready for Hilllary super PAC raised.  While RfH had a substantial staff, the draft Carson effort relied heavily on volunteers and grassroots enthusiasm.  Draft Carson achieved some impressive accomplishments such as announcing 99 county chairs in Iowa (Oct. 20), and opening offices in Iowa and New Hampshire in December.

Meanwhile, the object of all this work kept up a busy schedule.  One big change for Dr. Carson in 2014 was his move from Maryland to West Palm Beach, Florida; he cited Maryland's high taxes.  At the end of May, Dr.
Carson launched his book tour for One Nation (Sentinel HC).  He continued delivering speeches to conservative groups including CPAC in March and the Western Conservative Summit in Denver in July.   The Washington Times' John Solomon reported on August 1 that following two days of meetings with supporters in Palm Beach, FL, Carson had "selected Houston businessman Terry Giles to be his 2016 campaign chairman should he run and approved the formation of a PAC called One Nation."  That name was already taken, but Carson's USA First PAC filed with the FEC on August 26 and he formally launched it on September 10.  The PAC did not have much of an impact, reporting total receipts of $377,072, but contributions to committees of just $30,600.  On November 4, The Washington Times reported that Carson had changed his registration from Independence Party of Florida to Republican on Election Day.  On November 8-9 "A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America," a nearly hour-long (58 min. 30 sec.) documentary paid for and produced by Armstrong Williams Productions, ran on about three dozen local stations in 22 states and DC.  In advance of the ad, Fox News "ended its paid contributor relationship with Carson."  In December Carson made his first trip to Israel, organized by The Face of Israel.

- Since retiring in June 2013 after a distinguished 40-year medical career, Dr. Carson has kept busy with the work of the
Carson Scholars Fund, an organization which he co-founded in 1994 and which has granted over 5,700 scholarships for "superior academic performance and demonstration of humanitarian qualities."  In addition to many speaking engagements (he is represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau), Carson writes a weekly column and serves as a FOX News contributor.  He is the author of five books, most recently America the Beautiful (Zondervan, Jan. 2012), and he is working on another, One Nation, scheduled for release May 2014.  Carson's inspirational life story - he grew up in poverty in a single parent home in Detroit and did poorly in school, yet rose to become a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins - was even the subject of a 2009 movie starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story," which aired on TNT.  As the Dr. Ben Carson for President facebook page says, "His life is a great example of the American Dream."  More recently, Carson has drawn attention for speaking his mind.  At the President’s National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 7, 2013, Carson "took on the PC world" and took the opportunity to address some of the problems facing the country, even advocating health savings accounts as President Obama sat a few feet away.  The Atlantic magazine described him as "the New Conservative Folk Hero."  Carson has given a number of political speeches, including at CPAC in March.  In his speech at the Values Voter Summit in October he drew attention for declaring, "Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing to happen to the nation since slavery."  In October Carson joined Fox News as a contributor.  Supporters have tried to persuade Carson to seek elective office, including a petition to draft him to run for U.S. Senate in his home state of Michigan.  In August the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, directed by Vernon Robinson, formed.  The super PAC aims to convince Carson to run for president and is working to build a grassroots organization that can take him to the White House.  On Dec. 3 the committee announced it had raised more than $1 million.  Carson has responded to such initiatives stating that "...as of today it is not my intention to seek public office. Instead I will continue to strive very hard to not only expose what is happening in our nation, but also to suggest ways to regain a direction that will lead our nation towards freedom and justice for all." 

Ben Carson, M.D. with Candy Carson.  Oct. 6, 2015.  A MORE PERFECT UNION: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties.  New York: Sentinel HC.
"I wrote this book to encourage every citizen to read and think about the Constitution, and to help defend it from those who misinterpret and undermine it. In our age of political correctness it’s especially important to defend the Bill of Rights, which guarantees our freedom to speak, bear arms, practice our religion, and much more."

Ben Carson, M.D. with Candy Carson.  May 20, 2014.  ONE NATION: What We Can All Do to Save America.  New York: Sentinel HC.

"As a doctor rather than a politician, I care about what works, not whether someone has an (R) or a (D) after his or her name. We have to come together to solve our problems...  Knowing that the future of my grandchildren is in jeopardy because of reckless spending, godless government, and mean-spirited attempts to silence critics left me no choice but to write this book. I have endeavored to propose a road out of our decline, appealing to every American’s decency and common sense."  [tour]

Ben Carson, M.D. with Candy Carson.  Jan. 2012.  AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
"Dr. Ben Carson helps us learn from our past in order to chart a better course for our future. From his personal ascent from inner-city poverty to international medical and humanitarian acclaim, Carson shares experiential insights that help us understand: … what is good about America … where we have gone astray … which fundamental beliefs have guided America from her founding into preeminence among nations."

Ben Carson, M.D. with Gregg Lewis.  Dec. 19, 2007.  TAKE THE RISK: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
"In his compelling new book, he examines our safety-at-all-costs culture and the meaning of risk and security in our lives. In our 21st-century world, we insulate ourselves with safety. We insure everything from vacations to cell phones. We go on low-cholesterol diets and buy low-risk mutual funds. But in the end, everyone faces risk, like the Bijani twins did with their brave decision. Even if our choices are not so dramatic or the outcome so heartbreaking, what does it mean if we back away instead of move forward?"

Ben Carson, M.D. with Gregg Lewis.  Jan. 1999.  THE BIG PICTURE: Getting Perspective on What's Really Important in Life.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
"In The Big Picture, Dr. Carson shares with you the overarching philosophy that has shaped his life, causing him to rise from failure to far-reaching influence. This book is not about HOW to succeed---it’s about WHY to succeed. It’s about broadening your perspectives. It’s about finding a vision for your own life that can reframe your priorities, energize your efforts, and inspire you to change the world around you."

Ben Carson, M.D. with Cecil Murphey.  1992.  THINK BIG: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
"In this follow-up to his best-selling Gifted Hands, Dr. Ben Carson prescribes his personal formula for success. And who could better advise than a man who has transformed himself from a ghetto kid into the most celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon in the world? With an acrostic, Dr. Carson spells out his philosophy of living: T -Talents/time: Recognize them as gifts. H -Hope for all good things and be honest. I -Insight from people and good books. N -Be nice to all people. K -Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living. B -Books: Read them actively. I -In-depth learning skills: Develop them. G -God: Never get too big for Him."

Ben Carson, M.D. with Cecil Murphey.  1990.  GIFTED HANDS: The Ben Carson Story. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
"...the inspiring story of an inner-city kid with poor grades and little motivation, who, at age thirty-three, became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Gifted Hands will transplace you into the operating room to witness surgeries that made headlines around the world, and into the private mind of a compassionate, God-fearing physician who lives to help others."

Early Articles
Jason Zengerle.  "What if Sarah Palin Were a Brain Surgeon?"  CQ, April 2015.
Jim Rutenberg.  "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ben Carson?"  New York Times Magazine, March 17, 2015.
Eliana Johnson.  "Carson Gets Ready."  National Review, Dec. 3, 2014
Jaime Fuller.  "The Draft Ben Carson super PAC raised a massive amount of money over the last three months. How?" WashingtonPost.com.  April 17, 2014.

American Bridge 21st Century PAC: Ben Carson.


National Draft Ben Carson
for President Committee

...super PAC filed with the FEC on Aug. 21, 2013 cont'd to March 2015

Draft organization

Think Big PAC

from late 2013

  this page last revised May 26, 2016