Ben Carson Just Took One Step Closer to Running for President

That’s great news for his burgeoning fan club.

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
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Emma Roller
Aug. 1, 2014, 9:07 a.m.

Dr. Ben Car­son—the re­tired neurosur­geon-cum-con­ser­vat­ive rock star—an­nounced he is start­ing his own polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee, tak­ing him one step closer to an­noun­cing a pres­id­en­tial run in 2016.

The Wash­ing­ton Times, for which Car­son writes a column, broke the news on Fri­day. The PAC, called One Na­tion, echoes the title of Car­son’s re­cent book, which he is on tour to pro­mote.

“I would say we are def­in­itely a step or two closer than we were a year ago,” Car­son told the Times when asked about the like­li­hood of run­ning for pres­id­ent.

Car­son gained no­tori­ety among con­ser­vat­ives after de­liv­er­ing a fiery speech at the Na­tion­al Pray­er Break­fast in 2013. He has gone on to irk lib­er­als and de­light con­ser­vat­ives with, shall we say, his ima­gin­at­ive lan­guage. He has said the Af­ford­able Care Act is “the worst thing that’s happened in this na­tion since slavery.”

The One Na­tion PAC will be led by busi­ness­man Terry Giles. Like Car­son, Giles has re­ceived the Hor­a­tio Al­ger Award for over­com­ing ad­versity.

A re­tired law­yer, Giles is now the head of Giles En­ter­prises, an in­vest­ment firm based in Hou­s­ton, Texas. When Giles was an at­tor­ney, he rep­res­en­ted Ken­neth Lay, the En­ron founder who was con­victed on 10 counts of fraud dur­ing the com­pany’s cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

A mul­ti­mil­lion­aire, Giles lives in Hou­s­ton with his wife but also owns houses in France and Mex­ico. He is also “well-versed in crisis man­age­ment”—a good skill for any polit­ic­al man­ager to have.

As the head of Car­son’s new PAC, Giles will join an ec­cent­ric cast of char­ac­ters who are already agit­at­ing for a Car­son 2016 bid. As Mar­in Cogan wrote in Na­tion­al Journ­al last month, one of Car­son’s main boost­ers is John Philip Sousa IV, the great-grand­son of the fam­ous march­ing band com­poser John Philip Sousa.

Sousa has met Car­son only once, but has suc­cess­fully raised $7.2 mil­lion for Car­son’s can­did­acy through his own su­per PAC, the Na­tion­al Draft Ben Car­son for Pres­id­ent Com­mit­tee. Ver­non Robin­son, who cofoun­ded the or­gan­iz­a­tion with Sousa, says Car­son’s new PAC is a wel­come ad­di­tion to their ef­forts.

“We’re ec­stat­ic,” Robin­son told Na­tion­al Journ­al on Fri­day.

And while the pro-Car­son group has earned grass­roots en­thu­si­asm—its Face­book page boasts more than 160,000 fans—the can­did­ate him­self is a ways off from be­com­ing a pres­id­en­tial heavy­weight. In a re­cent column, Car­son chas­tised Pres­id­ent Obama’s for­eign policy, es­pe­cially with re­spect to the con­flict in Ukraine.

“What has the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion done in re­sponse to this ag­gres­sion by Rus­sia? Not really much, oth­er than im­pose tooth­less sanc­tions on Rus­si­an busi­ness­men close to Putin (but not the Rus­si­an pres­id­ent him­self), which have done little to make Rus­sia change course,” he wrote. “Is this what Ron­ald Re­agan would have done?”

Ac­tu­ally … yes. In 1982, the Re­agan ad­min­is­tra­tion tried, un­suc­cess­fully, to im­pose sanc­tions on the USSR in an ef­fort to de­rail its Siberi­an gas pipeline.

State­ments like these could prove prob­lem­at­ic come 2016. But Car­son and his fans have plenty of time to up their chops be­fore then.

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