The Buzz

Dr. Ben Carson for President: What You Need to Know

Americans have had presidents who were lawyers (more than two dozen of them), soldiers, land surveyors, farmers, and schoolteachers. Even a newspaper publisher, a mining engineer, and an actor have made it to the White House. But never in its history has the United States had a president who was trained as a medical doctor. That will change if Ben Carson gets his wish. The path breaking, and now retired, pediatric neurosurgeon formally announced yesterday that he has joined the increasingly crowded race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. The campaign marks Carson’s first bid for elective office. In case you are wondering, the last person to win the White House in his first bid for office was Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Name: Benjamin Solomon Carson 
Date of Birth: September 18, 1951
Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan 
Religion: Seventh-Day Adventist
Political Party: Republican Party 
Marital Status: Married to Lacena (“Candy”) 
Children: Murray, Benjamin, Jr., and Rhoeyce
Alma Mater: Yale University (BA), University of Michigan School of Medicine (MD)
Career: Commentator, Fox News (2013-2014); Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital (1984-2013)
Twitter Handle: @RealBenCarson

Campaign Announcement

Carson made his announcement in his hometown of Detroit. He got straight to the point:

I’m Ben Carson and I’m a candidate for president of the United States.

Carson targeted domestic issues in his announcement. He said nothing about foreign policy. He did take on the charge that he is a political neophyte. Indeed, he embraced it:

I am not a politician. I don’t want to be a politician. Politicians do what is politically expedient and I am going to do what is right.

Carson won’t be hitting the campaign trail right away. Two days ago, while he was practicing his announcement speech, he received heartbreaking news: his mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease back in 2012, is likely to die in the next few days. He canceled a scheduled trip to Iowa so he can fly to Dallas to visit her one final time.

Carson’s Story

Carson’s life is a rags-to-riches story. He grew up in a broken home in inner city Detroit. His parents divorced when he was eight after his mother discovered that his father was a bigamist. He was raised by his mother, who had a third-grade education and married at thirteen. He had a violent temper as a teenager and once stabbed a classmate with a camping knife—fortunately, the knife broke on the victim’s belt buckle.

Carson eventually turned his life around, partly through prayer and partly because his mother pushed him to develop his talents. He attended Yale University as an undergraduate and then earned his medical degree at the University of Michigan. His specialty was pediatric neurosurgery. He became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, one of the finest medical schools in the world, when he was just thirty-three. In 1997, he led a team that was the first to ever separate twins who were born conjoined at the head.

Carson became an instant conservative hero in 2013 when he used a speech at the normally non-political National Prayer Breakfast to give a minute oration that mixed charming stories with a denunciation of President Obama’s philosophy and policies. The president was sitting just ten feet away.