Ben Carson Stops Campaigning To Go On A Book Tour

Ben Carson will spend most of October on a book tour rather than campaigning for President. Further proof that he is not a serious candidate despite his standing in the polls.

Over the past two months, Ben Carson has surged in the polls to the point where he is in second place behind Donald Trump in the national polls, including one in which he is only one point behind, as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the retired John Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon is putting his campaign on hold for two weeks to go on a book tour:

Republican presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson has put his public campaign events on hold for two more weeks to go on book tour for his new tome “A More Perfect Union” and catch up on fundraising events.

The campaign has been careful to separate campaign events and the book tour, and doesn’t want to classify the tour as related to the campaign in any way.

This week he is catching up on fundraising events and will be back on his book tour next week making stops in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. So for the next two weeks, Carson won’t be appearing at any public “campaign events.”

Carson will be going back and forth between campaign fundraising events and book tour events over the next two weeks. His campaign says he has over 20 campaign fundraising events scheduled over that time period.

The campaign says the next time they will appear publicly with Carson will be the day of the next GOP debate on Oct. 28. His last public campaign event was Oct. 2.

Carson’s campaign staff will not travel with him while on tour, noting that it’s better to stay off the trail for fear of being accused of using campaign assets to sell books.

“It’s a question of co-mingling from the corporate standpoint to the Federal Election Commission standpoint so it’s just better to avoid any bad appearance,” spokesman Doug Watts told ABC News.

But, it’s in keeping with his unconventional campaign style — taking a break from campaign events and going on book tour while his campaign staff stays at home, spending very little time in early states, all the while still managing to remain high in the polls. He’s even managed to climb into a dead heat with Donald Trump in the latest national poll from Fox News yesterday.

The lack of public campaign events doesn’t seem to be hurting his visibility or influx of donations. Watts says they have raised $3 million so far this month and have about 15,000 pieces of mail sitting at the post office that average about $50 a donation, which is not included in the monthly total.

The book proceeds are personal, and are not connected to Dr. Carson’s presidential campaign, however the campaign does note they are indirectly making money off the book and views its release during a time when he is polling so high as beneficial.

Touting his recent poll numbers, the campaign says it is not worried Carson isn’t out and about as much.

“Our numbers went up in the Fox poll in the last 7 days our numbers went up in the CBS poll in the last 4 days,” Watts said. “They did the same thing in Virginia and we are the only Republican beating Hillary Clinton in Virginia so right now I don’t see any reason to be worried.”

To say the least, Carson’s decision to essentially suspend active campaigning other than fundraising for nearly the entire month of October is highly unusual. If he were among the field of candidates at the bottom of the polls, perhaps, it would be something that wouldn’t surprise anyone and, indeed, there have been instances in the past where low-polling candidates have released a book near the start or in the middle of a campaign and then decided to spend most of their time promoting the book rather than running for office. Ben Carson, though, isn’t a low-polling candidate. As I said, he is presently running second for the Republican nomination for President in nearly every poll that has been conducted for the past two months. He has just come off of a hugely successful fundraising quarter that saw him raise more money than established, experienced candidates like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul. If Donald Trump were to falter in the coming weeks, it would presumably be Carson who would be the immediate beneficiary. Additionally, while the caucuses in Iowa and primary in New Hampshire are still just under four months away, that is far less time than it appears to be on the calendar. The coming months are the time in which candidates and campaigns ought to be campaigning aggressively in those states and building the organization they would need to put together a credible showing on election night. For Carson to basically put all of that aside for nearly an entire month is surprising given his position in the polls and indicates a lack of seriousness to his campaign that voters are likely to notice.

Inevitably, the sight of Carson, or any candidate for that matter, effectively suspending their campaign for the purpose of going on a book tour that will generally benefit them personally far more than it would benefit the campaign will reinforce the perceptions of many, including myself, that Carson isn’t really serious about winning the nomination. It also reinforces the standard perception of long shot candidates entering the race for President primarily to boost their personal brand or essentially audition for some future media position. Looking at Carson’s decisions from the perspective of an undecided voter in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, a move like this is likely to lead to questions of just how serious Carson is about this race, whether he really knows what he’s getting himself into, and whether he’s the right candidate for them to put their support behind going forward. If that perception spreads, then Carson could see his position in the polls weaken very quickly while candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have been moving up in the polls behind him, keep moving ahead. Finally, of course, a move like this raises some serious  questions about campaign finance law. Even if Carson is on tour promoting its book, it’s hard not to see how his appearances around the country and in the media would not end up being simultaneous promotion of his Presidential campaign. To the extent his publisher is paying for his book tour, that raises questions about the propriety of even mentioning his campaign for President while he’s talking about his book even though it would be rather impossible for him not to do so.

Notwithstanding his rise in the polls, I’ve never really believed that Ben Carson was a serious candidate for President. His lack of government experience combined with some rather obvious gaps in his knowledge regarding how government works and a long  history of inflammatory rhetoric that most recently appeared to include the suggestion that Holocaust victims were partly to blame for their fate make it clear to me that he will eventually end up being this cycle’s Herman Cain. A move like this, which is almost unheard of in the history of American Presidential campaigning, only seems to confirm that.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mark Ivey says:

    “The end is near.. so why not buy at least 3 copies of my new book first..”

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I take it as proof of something I’ve long suspected: campaigning is even worse than book tour.

    When I go out on tour I now require business or first flights, hotels that are four stars or better, and no quibbling about my bar bill. I still dislike the whole thing, but I can take the edge off at the end of the day when Rupert Murdoch buys me a steak and a Scotch at some desolate, depressing hotel bar.

    But on campaign you have to be a man of the people with all your expenses accounted for and scrutinized in public view. So you’re in Iowa or New Hampshire at a Red Roof Inn or if you’re lucky a Courtyard by Marriott, having flown in on Southwestern or God help us, Delta. In coach! And if you’re a good boy and not running as an evangelical you can have a Bud Light.

    I’ve said before: anyone who would voluntarily live the campaign lifestyle for a year or more should be ipso facto disqualified from holding any public office.

  3. CSK says:

    Maybe we should re-name him It’s All About the Benjamins Carson.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    Bhahahahaha. This could prove Carson isn’t as crazy as he was starting to look.

    Or it could prove the opposite.

  5. SenyorDave says:

    Does anyone know if the campaign is allowed to buy his book and then distribute them for “free”? That would be a huge win-win for Carson, putting potentially millions in his pocket plus the campaign would have something more to give followers than a button or bumper sticker.

  6. stonetools says:

    Heh, grifter doesn’t let presidential campaigning get in the way of his collecting $$$. Tell me again how ethically pure Dr. Gifted Hands is again…

  7. stonetools says:

    I think this will backfire on him, honestly. The rubes are dumb, but they aren’t THAT dumb (are they?). Even so,surely, someone in the media is going to point out the obvious.

    I will be surprised if this doesn’t result in both a plunge in the polls AND in book sales.

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    Most conservative authors sell books to people who actually don’t read and the books are nothing but bookshelf ornaments. My late farther had a whole bookshelf of them but never got through the past the first few pages of any of them. But the money is the same.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    Most conservative authors sell books to people who actually don’t read and the books are nothing but bookshelf ornaments. My late farther had a whole bookshelf of them but never got through the past the first few pages of any of them. But the money is the same.

  10. Franklin says:

    Why was he writing when he should have been reading?

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    No, no, no. These aren’t campaign stops! It says so right in my campaign committee’s declaration about them. These are stops advertising my book–which only coincidentally outlines my views of America and how it should be led in future.

    See? Not campaign stops, not at all!

  12. Pete S says:

    He has been running as an outsider and non-politician. What better way to demonstrate your commitment to these positions than to stop campaigning for a while to make a few bucks? This should help his poll numbers even more than his ridiculous comments do.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Is there any real reason why Carson should be going off on a book tour at this point? Considering how much money he’s raked in from his supporters, he surely can’t be doing this simply for the travel expenses being paid for by the book publisher, is he?

  14. Pete S says:

    Part of me still thinks that Carson and Trump are sitting somewhere away from the cameras, drinking brandy and smoking cigars, saying to each other: “See? I told you we could pull this off. Those rubes believe in us!”

  15. the Q says:

    ….campaigning is even worse than book tour….

    very funny!!!

    Maybe if he drops out altogether he will get the nomination.

  16. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Well, I thought that was kind of my point. Pitching the book that purportedly explains why you would be the best President looks like a campaign stop to me. Maybe I need my snarker adjusted.

  17. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: @grumpy realist: If your question is what advantage does he get by portraying this trip as “book tour,” I haven’t a clue, but saying (and believing) these trips are not campaign stops is ludicrous.

  18. dazedandconfused says:

    O for crying out loud…his campaign is a book tour.

    I recall Riense Prebus mentioning that he was looking into steps which would prevent the RNC nomination from becoming a clown-car of people trying to sell their books this time around. Haven’t seen much of him lately. I imagine he’s been out shopping for a bus.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @dazedandconfused: And they’re probably all selling their books to each other, which is even funnier.

    What we’re seeing this time around is not the case where the Tea Party part of the Republican Party has swallowed the party (although that is in process), but where the Conservo-entertainment part of the party has totally swallowed the party.

    The damn thing has turned entirely into a reality show, which is why Trump is running away with the nomination so far.

  20. dazedandconfused says:

    Trump is leading polls of approximately 4% of the population and only getting supported by a quarter of those. It is more than a year away from the election and what is happening now is all but meaningless. We are only seeing echo’s of the thinking of political junkies. This is the product of the bean counter’s rating-seeking. They are in complete control of the cable “news” industry and that exists to serve the interests of their shareholders. The notion of having a civic duty to keep the US public well informed to maintain democracy is to their grubby little minds what a snowball is to hell. This is not the nomination. At this time it’s but reality TeeVee at it’s worst.

    That the most powerful country in the world’s media is all but utterly devoted to and absorbed by such silliness is an abomination.

  21. Joe Hoover says:

    Is Carson a Muslim? Is it coincidental that he decided to take a month off for his “book tour” at the same time as the Islamic holy month of Muharram?

    The festival of Muharram has significant religious importance for Muslims, beginning with the first day, which is known as the Islamic New Year. Each year, the holiday falls on a different day because the Islamic calendar is and 11 or 12 days shorter than the solar calendar used in Western countries.

    This year, the new year falls on Oct. 13. Muharram is one of the four holy months of Islam and unlawful acts, such as fighting and bloodshed, are forbidden. In fact, the term “Muharram” translates to “forbidden.””

    No fighting therefore no campaigning.

  22. Tillman says:

    @Joe Hoover:

    Is it coincidental that he decided to take a month off for his “book tour” at the same time as the Islamic holy month of Muharram?


  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Tillman: Oh, but we’re having so much fun with the snark….

    “Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to!”

    BTW, who was the doofus who came up with the above? My memory hash tables are telling me Peggy Noonan.

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Yup, Noonan. Being a millenial, I actually knew Noonan from this quote before I knew she worked for Reagan.