The Chatter

Ben Carson Takes Big Step Toward Presidential Bid

In busy news cycle, Hopkins' neurosurgeon among first to formally explore 2016 campaign.

It’s been a hectic 24 hours.

Monday morning, Sen. Barbara Mikulski surprised the political world by announcing that she would not seek reelection in 2016, immediately setting off a day of wild speculation about potential contenders to fill her shoes.

Then, this morning, the presumed Democratic frontrunner for her seat, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, issued a statement praising Mikulski’s record, but declaring that he would not be a candidate for her office. He has been, after all, making the rounds in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina—early presidential primary states—where, it is presumed, he will eventually throw his hat in the ring.

Which brings us to renowned former Johns Hopkins’ neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. The 63-year-old conservative Republican launched a formal presidential exploratory committee Tuesday—a key move that allows him to start raising money now for a campaign should he decide to enter the race. He made the announcement via video on his new website, which highlights his compelling personal story, groundbreaking career in pediatric neurosurgery, and philanthropy.

In his nearly 4-minute video announcement, Carson, who has never held elected office, says, “All of us are frustrated with the way Washington has let us down. Career politicians simply don’t understand the disappointment, anger, and pain in real America.”

He says that if he receives enough encouragement and support over the next few months, he’ll make for a run for president.

Although Carson has at times created controversy with his public remarks, such as expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage and Obamacare, as well as his creationist views, he remains popular among conservatives. At the recent, annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, Carson finished fourth in the straw poll with 11.4 percent of the vote, after Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul with 25.7 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 21.4 percent, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 11.5 percent.

It’s worth noting that Carson outpolled former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who finished with 8.3 percent of the tally, as well as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry—all of whom received less than 4 percent of the vote. Carson, who has often appeared on Fox News as a political commentator, discussed his potential bid on Meet the Press this past weekend. At this point, there seems little to indicate why he wouldn’t run.

In fact, Carson, who talks often about his religious faith, may play particularly well in the Iowa Republican caucus and South Carolina primary if former Gov. Mike Huckabee does not enter the race.

O’Malley, on the other hand, has struggled to make much of dent in national Democratic presidential polls, and recently tried to distance himself from Hillary Clinton.

Time will tell if Carson or O’Malley will be able to gain traction in their potential primary campaign efforts, but what does seem clear is that neither man lacks ambition for the job.