Ben Carson To Launch Quixotic, Doomed Campaign For President On May 4th

Ben Carson will be entering the race for President next month, but don't pretend for a minute that he's a serious candidate.

Dr. Ben Carson Speaks At Launch Of New Media Online Network In Scottsdale, Arizona

Ben Carson, the Baltimore neurosurgeon who became a conservative media star when he criticized the President at the National Prayer Breakfast several years ago, will enter the Presidential race on May 4th:

Dr. Ben Carson is expected to officially declare his decision on whether to run for president May 4 in his hometown of Detroit.

The event at the Detroit Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts will be ticketed, though a time hasn’t been set, officials said Monday.

Carson, 63, was in Michigan this month to deliver a paid speech at Alma College, and he’s recently appeared in New Hampshire, Iowa and Tennessee, giving a speech at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in Nashville this past weekend.

Carson is the only African-American in a long list of presidential hopefuls. He placed fourth among Republican hopefuls in a Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll in late February, gleaning 11.4 percent of votes behind Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (25.7 percent); Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (21.4 percent) and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (11.5 percent).

Paul, Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are officially in the running for the Republican nomination, and former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Sunday that she’s seeking the Democratic nomination.

The political action committee backing Carson raised nearly $13.3 million in donations last year, according to campaign finance reports.

Carson’s presidential exploratory committee, formed in early March, brought in more than $2.1 million in its first 28 days, according to a statement by Barry Bennett, the campaign’s manager.

While the report doesn’t precisely state that Carson will be announcing that he’s running for President, it’s obvious that he would not be scheduling an event like this to announce that he wasn’t running. Additionally, other media outlets are reporting that Carson is in fact running, so we can just assume that he will be entering the race along with Cruz, Paul, and Rubio, especially since he had already strongly hinted that he would doing so in September and November of last year.

Carson, of course, has a history of making controversial statements that is likely to follow him into the Presidential race. Just in the past several years, he has equated the Affordable Care Act to the September 11th attacks, made frequent use of Nazi analogies to criticize the President, and said that “progressives” want to turn the United States into Nazi Germany, compared abortion to human sacrifices by civilizations of the past. More recently, he claimed that prison rape is proof that being gay is a choice. Notwithstanding the fact that they are outrageous and largely seem to discredit him as a national candidate, these comments appear to have helped Carson among some segments of the Republican Party as evidence by his showing in this year’s CPAC poll, and the fact that he is currently averaging 9.0% in national polls of the Republican field, just behind Rand Paul and ahead of candidates like Marco Rubio who are obviously more qualified for the Presidency than he is. On the state level, he’s averaging 8% in Iowa and 9.7% in South Carolina, two states with the type of conservative Republican electorate that one expects he’d be likely to appeal to.

That being said, as University of Virginia Professor Larry Sabato notes, Carson simply cannot be considered a serious candidate:

Political observers note that Carson enjoys a grassroots following, name recognition and the attention of right-wing media. His support is strongest among social conservatives and tea party voters, but the first-time campaigner has little chance of backing by the Republican establishment, said Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“The last president elected who had never been in any elected public office was Dwight Eisenhower, and he was supreme allied commander in World War II. Carson has not led us through any wars,” Sabato said.

“And given all the controversies in his record, it would be Goldwater all over again.”

Sabato is, of course, absolutely right. While Carson will likely get a bump in the polls after his announcement, and will likely also enjoy some time as the media darling of the week at some point during the campaign, he is not going to be a serious candidate for President. He will not be the Republican nominee in 2016, and he will not be the Vice-Presidential running mate in 2016. He is, as I’ve said before, this election cycle’s version of Herman Cain and, much like Cain, one suspects that his campaign will likely crash, burn, and fade away long before Iowans show up to vote at their caucus locations in February 2016.

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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. Ron Beasley says:

    Fire up the clown car! This is going to be fun.

  2. Gustopher says:

    Quixotic has a romantic association that I just don’t see here.

    “Carson to run farcical, delusional and doomed campaign” seems like a better headline.

  3. Tillman says:

    I’d trust him with my brain, but not my mind.

    Herman Cain had a showmanship to him, though. You could tell he’d spent a long time as a salesman. Carson without his atrocious historical similes is just boring. His schtick so far has been to be a very boring person saying outrageous drivel that fuels the id.

    Glad he’s in the campaign though, I’d like wider media attention to suss out whether he’s a true believer or not. I’m undecided.

    @Gustopher: Nah, quixotic works. That’s probably the most generous adjective for it since “romantic” also implies “interesting,” and Carson is so terribly dull.

    Also keep in mind how the average Republican sees the guy: he espouses the sort of history a white high school graduate from Siler City, NC (population 7,000!) in 1955 would be familiar with. That’s “quixotic” to people who find the ’50s romantic.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Carson is not running for President. He’s exploiting the process to build his personal brand and stroke his ego. Apparently this is perfectly in GOP presidential politics.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’m hoping Eric Florack pokes out his head and comments on this. It strikes me that Carson is the most “True Conservative” (TM) that we’ve ever had.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    Posting the Carly-Mika exchange again because it’s so good

    You ran for Senate and lost. You worked for John McCain, you were moved off that campaign, and he lost. You had a tenure at Hewlett-Packard that a lot of people describe as extremely rocky, destroying jobs and destroying the company’s reputation. Are you really the right person to be criticizing Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments or lack thereof?


  7. legion says:

    Carson has not led us through any wars,” Sabato said.

    Clearly, Sabato has never actually heard Carson speak. His entire shtick is that since he’s a Conservative, and a genuinely renowned and respected surgeon, he is therefore completely expert on all other subjects under the sun. And any completely uneducated, asinine statements he makes on those subjects are simply being misinterpreted by lesser mortals who never went to med school. That’s _all_ of Ben Carson in a nutshell.

  8. anjin-san says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Just about every HP employee/alumni that I have every talked to despises Carly.

  9. Tillman says:

    @grumpy realist:

    But other than THAT, what has [Hillary] done? Sure, she was the student commencement speaker when she graduated from Wellesley College (total safety school) in 1969, and then she went to Yale Law School, and maybe she racked up a few achievements even before she could skate by on nothing but her husband’s last name, but has she ever murdered a major corporation practically to DEATH?

  10. Tyrell says:

    @Tillman: Has anyone heard from Alan Keyes lately ? He usually gets in.
    Siler City: the town near a famous “haunted” site.

  11. CSK says:

    Quixotic–or carefully calculated to raise those speaker fees and book advances? I suspect the latter.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    I don’t know that it’s fair to call his campaign “doomed”. It’ll probably sell a lot of books.

  13. CSK says:


    That’s the point.

  14. grumpy realist says:

    Balloon Juice, I think, sums up the whole dreary mess quite nicely.

    Can someone please invent an election filter to remove all mention of the POTUS horse race from all of our news feeds for the next 18 months or so?

  15. al-Ameda says:

    “The last president elected who had never been in any elected public office was Dwight Eisenhower, and he was supreme allied commander in World War II. Carson has not led us through any wars,” Sabato said.

    I don’t know about that, Carson is fond of Hitler/Nazi analogies:
    You can’t dance around it…. If people look at what I said and were not political about it, they’d have to agree. Most people in Germany didn’t agree with what Hitler was doing…. Exactly the same thing can happen in this country if we are not willing to stand up for what we believe in.”