Ben Carson Is Raking in More Money Than Hillary Clinton or Rand Paul for 2016

But the group that wants him to run for president has a spending problem.

World-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and philanthropist Dr. Benjamin Carson Sr. speaks to an audience in Central Michigan University in October 2009.
National Journal
Emma Roller
April 18, 2014, 9:31 a.m.

Fox News calls him a “con­ser­vat­ive sage.” But is Dr. Ben Car­son — a re­tired neurosur­geon who gained Re­pub­lic­an fans after speak­ing freely at last year’s Na­tion­al Pray­er Break­fast — really the next great hope for 2016?

Judging by his early fun­drais­ing num­bers, some people cer­tainly think he is. As Re­u­ters re­ports, one group is push­ing hard for a Car­son 2016 bid. The Na­tion­al Draft Ben Car­son for Pres­id­ent Com­mit­tee has raised $2.4 mil­lion over the last three months — more than sim­il­ar groups sup­port­ing po­ten­tial can­did­ates like Hil­lary Clin­ton, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Marco Ru­bio.

Car­son first gained na­tion­al prom­in­ence at the 2013 Na­tion­al Pray­er Break­fast, where he com­pared the U.S. de­fi­cit to the “mor­al de­cay and fisc­al ir­re­spons­ib­il­ity” found in an­cient Rome be­fore its col­lapse, and said polit­ic­al cor­rect­ness “puts a muzzle on people.” (He also spoke at the 1997 Na­tion­al Pray­er Break­fast, along­side Bill Clin­ton.)

Since his pray­er-break­fast speech, Car­son has gone on to liken ele­ments of the gov­ern­ment to Nazi Ger­many and com­pare Obama­care un­fa­vor­ably to the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor and Jim Crow laws. Through his con­ser­vat­ive fan base, he’s earned pub­li­city in the form of speak­ing gigs at CPAC, as a Fox News con­trib­ut­or, and as a colum­nist for the con­ser­vat­ive Wash­ing­ton Times.

But like the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in Car­son’s cri­tique, the group back­ing him seems to have a spend­ing prob­lem, too. From Re­u­ters:

Though the Draft Ben Car­son com­mit­tee has raised $3.9 mil­lion since it was set up last year, it has spent money just as stead­ily. At the end of March, the com­mit­tee had $228,000 in the bank and car­ried $515,000 in debt, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

The group try­ing to draft Car­son is led by John Philip Sousa IV — yes, a des­cend­ant of that John Philip Sousa — who said he star­ted the group so that, if Car­son does de­cide to run, he’ll have the cam­paign in­fra­struc­ture already in place.

Though a spokes­man for Car­son told Re­u­ters that he is not in­ter­ested in run­ning for pres­id­ent, Car­son has said he’d make an ex­cep­tion for di­vine in­ter­ven­tion: “If the Lord grabbed me by the col­lar and made me do it, I would.”

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