He separated conjoined twins. Can he unite conservatives?
Dr. Ben Carson was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly 40 years. Now, he’s giving speeches about politics. In an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Carson discussed the grassroots effort to draft him for a 2016 presidential run.
“No, I don’t want to be president. Why would any sane person want to do that?” Carson said, though he admitted to noticing the campaign groundswell. “I think I have to consider that, with so many clamoring for me to do it.”
Carson’s sparkling surgery career included the first separation of twins conjoined at the back of the head in 1987. It even got the made-for-TV-movie treatment, featuring a Cuba Gooding, Jr. version of Carson completing the famous operation:
But Carson left it all behind last year, retiring at age 61. Now he’s a pundit, a speaker, and a conservative star. The big shift began with one speech in February 2013. At the National Prayer Breakfast, where speakers usually avoid addressing politics directly, Carson criticized Obamacare while offering alternative solutions. And the president was sitting only a few feet away:
The speech became a sensation on Youtube and in Washington. Carson continues to speak his mind, particularly when it comes to domestic challenges and President Obama’s leadership.
“This is something that’s been going on for an extended period of time,” Carson told Ramos. “And I think he certainly threw some gasoline on the fire with a lot of the divisive rhetoric.”
His supporters can’t get enough of the straight-shooting doctor. The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee has raised more than $10 million and Carson’s name has repeatedly popped up at or near the top of conservative 2016 straw polls.
It’s way too early to say whether Carson’s medical oath will give way to a presidential one. But as he told the Conservative Political Action Conference last year, he doesn’t mind being underestimated.
“It’s almost laughable, some of the things I hear people say,” Carson observed. “They say, ‘He’s a neurosurgeon, so he couldn’t know anything about economics.’ It’s not brain surgery.”