Ever since Ben Carson famously criticized President Barack Obama's health care policies during a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, many conservatives have rallied behind the retired neurosurgeon's conservative, anti-big government rhetorics and urged him to run for president in 2016. But despite passionate support among his fans, how will he overcome the fact that he has no political experience?
Carson has not officially announced his candidacy and plans to wait and see how November's midterm Congressional elections pan out, but he has already won a straw poll in Iowa and his book sales have beaten that of Hillary Clinton. Carson won the Polk County Iowa Republicans dinner straw poll, gaining an astonishing 62 percent of the vote Sunday night, and his new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future, is expected to remain No. 1 on next week's New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list, a spot the book has claimed since June. By comparison, the candidate that is the favorite to many liberals, Hillary Clinton, her book, Hard Choices, is No. 6 on that list.
Although winning a small poll of just 261 people at a dinner and having a best-selling book don't quite mean much in the realm of total support for a presidential election, it should be noted that The National Draft Ben Carson Committee has raised over $8.7 million, according to the Washington Post. By comparison, Clinton's super PAC, Ready For Hillary, has raised $8.25 million.
"Sometimes I realize there are forces greater than me," Carson said at the Polk County Republicans dinner. "I am an instrument that's being used to help restore this country."
However, should Carson somehow win the Republican nomination, how will he appeal to the middle majority of the voting electorate in a potential general election? With the majority of Americans placed in the middle of the political spectrum, most general election candidates tend to centralize their stances on issues. Is that even possible for Carson to do with his far-right stances on most political issues?
At this point in the 2016 election cycle, it is hard to gauge whether political support this far out from elections will be sustained. Generally, as FOX's Bill O'Reilly pointed out on his show "The O'Reilly factor" on Tuesday, it is hard for a candidate that has never held a political office to maintain support because they have a hard time justifying their qualifications for running the entire federal government. O'Reilly pointed out that many Republicans will look at Obama, who took office with no executive experience, and claimed that he failed in his management practices.
"There is no question that I haven't spent a lot of time in government. That doesn't mean that you can't make sure that you have people around you who have spent that time," Carson told O'Reilly. "I think the thing that is actually more important is wisdom and understanding and knowing how to use facts."
Carson added that it would not be new to him if he were thrust into a position where he had relatively little experience, but that has not stopped him from succeeding before. The key, Carson said, is coordinating the minds of many to accomplish the same goal.
"When I conducted some very complex operations, including things that hadn't been done before, it required pulling people together," Carson said. "Some of them knew a lot of things that I didn't know about different areas. But being able to coordinate those things and merge them into something that is successful, that's what we are going to need to do."
When O'Reilly asked him about how he would handle "uncharted waters" of dealing with international politics and how he would deal with other countries, Carson said he would simply have to rely on his generals and others in his administration that would have foreign policy experience.
Fox News' Chris Wallace said on Thursday that he doesn't think Carson has a "serious chance to be president."
"He is not selling himself all the time. I think he would have a lot to debate if he were going to run. Whether or not he is ready for the rough and tumble of debates and a lot of issues he has never had to tackle," Wallace said. "To me, it would be like taking one of these senators and putting them in an operating room and telling them to operate on somebody's leg."