Posted by Eddie Bejarano on June 12, 2015 in Blog

Carson.jpgBen Carson, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate and former pediatric neurosurgeon, talked his way into headlines, once again, by making controversial statements this past week.

Making contentious comments is what first brought Mr. Carson to prominence in 2013 when he likened ObamaCare to slavery during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. It is no secret that in a very crowded Republican presidential field, which includes popular last names such as Bush, Rubio and Paul, Mr. Carson is seeking to carve out his own niche and it appears that making tendentious comments will be his strategy to do so.

Twice this week Carson made off-the-wall remarks. When speaking in front of a group of conservative Iowa voters, he spoke about the need to improve the efficiency of federal employees. Mr. Carson suggested that he is genuinely considering creating “a covert division of people who look like the people in this room, who monitor what the government people do.” According to his logic, government employees would be inclined to be productive if they thought their coworkers were monitoring them, and should they continue to underperform then they would be fired. Mr. Caron’s bizarre outside the box solution to improving the work ethic of federal employees received cheers of support from the crowd that he addressed.

Later that day, Mr. Carson spoke on Fox News with host Brett Baier about same-sex marriage rights. It should be noted that this past March, Mr. Carson reasoned that being gay is a choice because individuals “go into prison straight – and when they come out, they’re gay.”  His comments in that particular instance were damaging to his public image and he eventually retracted his comments, describing them as “hurtful and divisive.”

Yet, in speaking to Mr. Baier, Mr. Carson admitted to being annoyed with comparisons between the same-sex marriage rights movements and the civil rights movement. He believes that the comparisons are not warranted because society does not overtly segregate against gays as it did towards people of color. Mr. Carson appears to believe that gay rights do not qualify as a form of civil rights.  It is exactly these kinds of statements and positions that have both brought attention to him and hampered his first presidential campaign.

The cheers of support that Mr. Carson received in Iowa demonstrate that there is a segment of the Republican electorate who support his positions. Even before he entered the race, Mr. Carson was known for developing a dedicated grassroots fan base. The larger question facing Mr. Carson is not whether he will earn the support of fringe Republican voters; rather, will he be able to get the support of more moderate Republicans? Should he represent the Republican Party on Election Day, will his statements and positions resonate with the American public? Perhaps it is best for Mr. Carson to recognize that sometimes saying less is more powerful than saying too much. 

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