Tea Party hero and Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson invoked God, faith and courage as the fixed points of his moral compass Sunday, culminating a three-day state Republican convention in Raleigh.
Carson, who addressed the party activists during a prayer breakfast, was the last in a line of Republican rock stars to speak during the weekend-long gathering, which also featured Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, millionaire magnate Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. To date, Cruz and Carson are the only GOP candidates to have made official announcements of their White House bids.
A political novice, Carson has generated widespread attention as an African American who rose from the inner city of Detroit to become director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33. Among other achievements, he operated on several sets of conjoined twins. More recently, Carson reinvented himself as a Fox News commentator, a scourge of the Affordable Care Act and a public scold of gay marriage.
The ballroom audience of 600 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center was filled with Carson supporters, some of whom later said his Horatio Alger story demonstrates the American Dream is available to anyone with character and work ethic, whether they come from the ghetto or a gated community.
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“It doesn’t matter where you start from,” Carson said. “It matters where you finish.”
The Carson speaking Sunday was not the firebrand who had previously compared Obamacare to slavery and the modern United States to Nazi Germany. Presenting himself as a reluctant candidate answering God’s call, Carson said, “Going into politics was not something that appealed to me at all.”
Some in attendance were expecting a little more political hot sauce. Aubrey Woodard, a delegate from Transylvania County and a retired computer software entrepreneur, characterized Carson’s presentation as “a safe speech.”
“I just didn’t learn anything new that I didn’t know before,” Woodard said. “I was pleased with what he said, but I would have liked him to go further.”
In his 23-minute chat, Carson avoided public policy proposals, whereas Cruz on Saturday had called for a flat tax and repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Speaking in a conversational manner, Carson warned of left-wing intelligentsia who mock American values as political pabulum for morons.
“It’s time to stand up for what we believe in and stop letting them drive the boat,” Carson said. “We have been beaten into submission, and people are afraid to actually express themselves – because someone will call them a name, they’ll get an IRS audit, or someone will mess with their job.”
Carson also suggested self-pity and defeatism are greater problems than social injustice. Carson cited the story of Joseph in the Old Testament as a life-changing experience to him as a youngster. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and later imprisoned, but through diligence and faith rose to a position of influence in Egypt.
“Did he say, ‘Bummer, my own brothers sold me into slavery?’” Carson said to the rapt audience. “No. He said, ‘If I’m going to be a slave, I’ll be the best slave there is.’
“He ends up as governor of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world.”