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
Add to Briefcase
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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