March 17th, 2013
11:25 AM ET
2 years ago

Carson seen as fresh face among conservative leaders

(CNN) – Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a new favorite in conservative circles, wouldn't say Sunday where he stood on the political spectrum, but said his opinions resonate with both parties.

"I think basically what I've been talking about, if you distill it, it's not really right stuff or left stuff. It's logical stuff," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Carson won conservative acclaim last month when he criticized Democratic policies on taxes and health care while giving the keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast. President Obama was sitting just feet away as the renowned neurosurgeon openly chided some of Obama's positions.

Carson was invited to this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, where his address on Saturday was greeted with great fanfare. He even stoked some speculation of political ambition when he announced he'd be retiring from medical practice in three months.

"There are so many more things that can be done," Carson said at CPAC, pointing to his educational foundation, Carson's Scholars. Asked if he would consider entering politics, Carson said, "Once we get that taken care of, who knows."

He drew enthusiastic applause when he asked, hypothetically, "What if you magically put me in the White House?"

Carson said Sunday he was a registered independent and if he were asked to speak at a Democratic convention, he'd be "happy to do so."

Al Cardanas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC, said on the same program that the three-day conference this year heard from a number of new voices and up-and-coming conservatives that will represent the next generation of the movement.

He pointed to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky as the two young leaders who came out on top. In a 2016 presidential straw poll taken at the conference, Paul took first with 25%, while Rubio came in second with 24%.

Carson also fared well on the 23-name ballot, placing in the top 10 with 4% of the vote, the same score as freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. And Carson had more votes than 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who took 3%.

"The theme of CPAC this year precisely was, you know, new challenges, new generation of conservative leaders," Cardenas said. "We showed that indeed the party is revolving around these new leaders in the conservative movement."

Kiki McLean, a Democratic strategist, agreed that CPAC was a chance for big names to introduce themselves to a larger audience, but added the conference was nothing more than that.

"It's a little bit of the state pageant before you get into the Miss America show, and I think what you saw were some early introductions," she told CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

"I'm not sure that anybody, any American, walked away with an understanding this weekend that the Republican Party has made a decision about where it's going to go," she also said. "I think that's still a really big question."

– CNN's Kevin Liptak and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: 2016 • Ben Carson • CPAC • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    @freedom
    Was this journalist even in attendance at CPAC? Trying to undermine the strong patriotic message of freedom for all of American's citizens by citing musical choices not only exposes the ignorance of the journalist, but criticizes the composers and musicians. Good music is meant to be enjoyed by generations – just as our freedoms were intended to be timeless from our founding fathers. That's what CPAC is about. Not trends, not pop culture. Something much greater.

    Big Gulp Super Size Golden Girl GOP , " You Lie "

    March 17, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. Thomas

    The Rent is too Darn High

    March 17, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Anonymous

    "Trying to undermine the strong patriotic message of freedom for all of American's citizens by citing musical choices not only exposes the ignorance of the journalist, but criticizes the composers and musicians."

    Oh, poor freedom. Still playing the persecution card.
    New theme: ahhhh, whaaa. They don't like our musical choices.

    March 17, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. vic , nashville ,tn

    But same old message

    March 17, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. jpmichigan

    Dr. Carson is a reminder of what we are really about , what makes this country great. To bad Mr. Obama has lost his way, from what he preached in 2008 to what he has become. All the measures mentioned by Dr. Carson , which have brought our beloved country down, is practice in fact by this administration and Congress. Fresh ideas and new faces are needed in both parties. Time for term limits in Congress, enough is enough. On ward with new and out with the old.

    March 17, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Name

    The flavor of the month

    March 17, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. outside view

    Ted Cruz is a Canadian yet I see no one demanding to see his birth certificate.

    March 17, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Deathstalker74

    Carson is the ant-Obama. He's the answer to Obama's progressive shift. The guy is an independent, he's authentic with a true story of rags to riches, and his solutions are logical and more importantly, fair.

    March 17, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Deathstalker74

    I should also add that because Carson is all these things, I'm sure the left is presently digging up anything that would allow them to slander this good man. There is no way that Obama and his supporters in the media will allow a black man with fresh ideas that contrast their own to gain a foothold in American politics. He will get the same treatment Herman Cain received, but worse. I just hope the electorate will have enough sense to see through it this time around. Whoever the next candidate is for the GOP, Libertarians, etc. is, they're going to have to not only take on the Progressives. They're going to have to make the next election about the media's influence on our elections as well. A big challenge indeed.

    March 17, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Tony

    New face, same message, no chance.

    March 17, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Chipster

    Dr. Carson is not what this country is all about. Dr. Carson is all about religious oppression. The U.S. is not a Christian nation. It is not a nation where employers will be allowed to deny equal protection to women because of an employer's personal religious beliefs. This is a free nation where people practice their religious beliefs in their personal lives but are not allow to impose them on others. Providing health insurance does not force an employer to take any medications or services that he or she finds offensive to their faith. Employees have a right to make their own choices about their treatment. Dr. Carson believes he should be able to impose his religious beliefs on his employees and that is unconstitutional.

    March 17, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Name lynn

    Dr Carson you just got in the seat, please dont talk to much an lose it. You might not be the right color or you might be dont mess up with the people.

    March 17, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Chipster

    @Deathstalker74 I did not support Obama because he is black and I do not oppose Dr. Carson because he is black. I oppose Carson's efforts to impose his religious beliefs on those who do not share his religious beliefs. Ironically, we are fighting religious fanatics in the Middle East and cultivating them here in the Republican Party. Gays, abortion, contraception....these are issues of freedom, personal choices, and personal beliefs. Legislating Carson's ideas of morality is unacceptable. We don't need or want an American Taliban but that's where the GOP appears to be headed.

    March 17, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. Paul

    Carson would probably find out in a hurry just how difficult it is to change Washington. Obama gets criticized for not doing what he wanted to do but no one talks about how the Republicans set records for the most filibusters in the history of this country in stopping anything from getting done. The party of "NO" has a new goal. They will spend the next four years making sure "Obama is only a two term president". And then they will go on all the talk shows and brag how they accomplished their goal. They won't get anything done to help the country but they actually might accomplish their one goal. Sad

    March 17, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    "There is no way that Obama and his supporters in the media will allow a black man with fresh ideas that contrast their own to gain a foothold in American politics."

    Supporting a black man simply because he's seen as the newest Republican flavor of the day isn't going to work in 2016 any better than it worked in 2012. You people are going to need to first understand that in the next presidential election you won't have a "Barack Obama" to kick around. Your hate towards Obama in itself only got you so far. But the damage done will last for years to come. Without that hate to fuel the party, and because the GOP is so far behind times in diversity, everything will be seen as pandering. This is what happens when you allow your bigotry to get the best of you. It simply can no longer be swept back under the rug until the "next time".

    March 17, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    Like mcnasty , what a way to end an illustrious career! Then again this doctor said just a little too much and it wasn't about medicine.
    I take it he will run but not in Maryland, right?

    March 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Kassa

    There are thousands like him out there so enough for the outdated mindset. From doctors to successful business people. Suprised are you? They only changed parties when the Tea Party started sharing their racist and toxic stew. If Jeb Bush runs watch them come back and contribute to a once great party iand to a great nation.

    March 17, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    outside view: "Ted Cruz is a Canadian yet I see no one demanding to see his birth certificate."

    His dad was born and raised in Cuba, too. Cruz cannot be POTUS.

    March 17, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    From reading about Ben Carson on his own and the 700 Club's website, he would certainly try to erode the separation of Church and State, working to reinstate prayer in school and the teaching of the Bible.

    Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist, a very conservative Protestant sect. You can bet he doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body.

    While I admire Carson's abilities and what he has given to society, his lack of understanding of our nation's guarantee of freedom of religion makes him as unqualified for POTUS as any GOP contender.

    March 17, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. amlcpamaine

    I guess we can expect the GOP to roll out their tokens from now until the next election loss. They'll never get it - it's their POLICIES that we independents dislike. Their push to enrich the rich and to disenfranchise the poor runs against everything we were taught about democracy and "melting pot." And their defense of rip-off artists like the Wall St hedge fund managers and mortgage gamers is criminal. But somehow they keep talking among themselves about how great they are, how they're going to win every election, and they're going to have a token for each minority so they can claim "diversity." Yeah, the party of stupid - their paid shill followers are stupid and their top leaders seem to think we're stupid enough to fall for the tokens approach.

    March 17, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Joseph B

    The "fresh face" of Conservatives is still over 60 years old.

    March 17, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Getoverit

    Not to worry, lefties. Your media will find something to slander him with... even if it's not true.

    March 17, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. tammyk tammy

    Almost ashamed to admit that I have watched the movie and subsequently read his book about this man's life and his rise to being a neurosurgeon. Funny thing is, I got both the movie and the book at my local community, Socialist funded with tax payer money library. Whew! I feel so much better knowing that I didn't buy the movie or the book, thereby directly funding his sell-out to the conservatives who traditionally have cared nothing about the poor, struggling, underpriveleged black child that he used to be and seems to have forgotten. Sad, Dr. Carson, so sad.

    March 17, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |