Ben Carson’s supporters believe the “sky’s the limit” for him as a potential presidential candidate. A new documentary about his life shows why Carson, who is emerging as one of the most intriguing presidential prospects, would be a formidable candidate should he choose to enter the 2016 contest.
In A Breath of Fresh Air, the documentary about Carson’s life that aired in various television markets over the weekend in 22 states, a blueprint of some of Carson’s potential campaign themes emerges.
Terry Giles, who went to school in North Orange County, California at Cal State Fullerton in “Reagan Country,” and then attended Pepperdine’s Law School, will lead Carson’s campaign should he choose to run. Giles appears in the documentary and says Carson would be an “old-fashioned Republican” who would be “fiscally conservative” and “absolutely for the freedom of the individual.” He says that Carson has his “own belief system” and his “life is a model to live by, but he doesn’t expect to impose that” on the country. Carson, Giles says, doesn’t believe in imposing “rules and regulations and laws simply based on his personal beliefs.”
Should Carson run, he would have to answer questions about gun control, immigration and a host of other issues–like all other candidates. His supporters in the documentary are more than bullish, though, about a potential Carson candidacy. They love his life story, which will resonate with voters. And evidence suggests that they are not engaging in happy-talk.
Since Carson became more politically active and outspoken, his book signings have become like campaign events. Supporters in the documentary say that his lack of political experience is a net positive and what the country wants. Carson says his book tour has enabled him to go on a “nationwide listening tour” to the coasts, suburbs, the heartland, and the inner city. The Draft Ben Carson for President group has raised more money than the Ready for Hillary group. Carson finished second in the most recent Des Moines Register poll of likely GOP 2016 caucus participants. And the Draft Ben Carson group has chairs in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. He has also won straw polls in Iowa and the Western Conservative Summit’s Presidential Straw Poll in July.
From the documentary, it looks like Carson could run as a sufficiently conservative outsider and problem solver who is anti-Obamacare. Carson, who rocketed onto the political scene after criticizing President Barack Obama to his face at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast and then refused to apologize to Obama for it, would have enough anti-Obama red meat for the base. Carson seems like he could potentially have a message for the primary season that he would not have to change much in a potential general, which is the biggest key to winning general elections (see: Barack Obama in 2008). And he could also appeal to libertarian-leaning Americans who just want to be left alone.
Carson tells viewers he came of age during the 1960s and mentions the protests over civil rights, Vietnam and gender equality. Carson says he felt he could “ultimately be able to play a much more constructive role” regarding “internal and external conflicts” by becoming a surgeon. But his experiences in medicine, Carson implies, makes him fit to lead–and also solve policy problems.
He says that doctors are trained to make decisions on evidence instead of ideology. And Carson puts forth some substantive solutions to make the health care system a lot better and less intrusive. Carson pushes for tort reform and focuses on protecting medical information in the digital age, a message that could resonate with voters who have a heightened concern over privacy issues given, the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance and spying scandals.
He wants medical malpractice reform and health savings accounts. Carson says health savings accounts would empower the patient, reduce costs, and cost the taxpayers a lot less, even if the government puts $2,000 a year into each account. Carson said every patient could be their own insurance company with a health savings account.
“Obamacare isn’t working for all Americans,” Carson says in the documentary. “Let’s put patients first by focusing on free market solutions that Americans can be proud of.”
The documentary details Carson’s upbringing, calling him a “child of the Motor City.” Carson grew up in Detroit at the “height of America’s auto boom” to a “single mother with only a third-grade education.” Carson’s biography is familiar to those who have read his books or followed his career and inspiring to those who have not.
His mother, who did not know how to read and left her husband after finding out that he was a bigamist, “never became a victim or felt sorry for herself.” She forced Carson to read books and write book reports, even though she could not read them (Carson did not know that at the time, of course). When he started reading voraciously, Carson “went to the top of the class.” He learned so much between the covers of books and eventually went to Yale and the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He moved to Baltimore and built the top neurosurgery center in the nation at Johns Hopkins University.
Carson believes in a “higher power,” and he mentions how his failures in medicine tested his mettle and tried his faith. His former colleagues praise him for his leadership and “poise and calm” under the most challenging ordeals. He speaks about the importance of being a good father, and how he brought his sons along with him on his speaking engagements so he could spend time with them on the weekends.
Viewers are conveniently reminded that the Founding Fathers were “ordinary citizens from all walks of life” and “were not princes.” Three of the Founding Fathers, the narrator notes, were even physicians, and none were what we call professional politicians today.” The narrator blasts “political dynasties” and yearns for a time when one’s civic duty was “not a license for unlimited power,” where politicians did nothing productive other than perpetually running for office. The narrator says it is “time for ordinary citizens to take their roles as leaders back.”
Regarding America’s “fundamental values” and its “governing framework that has stood the test of time,” Carson says that the “high ideals of the Founders have provided guidance during America’s struggles,” as images of the Civil Rights movement appear on the screen.
Carson, who blasts ideologues on the right and left, said he wants to empower people and not demonize them. He blasts radical leftist organizer Saul Alinsky, who influenced both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for promoting the belief that one should not humanize enemies by talking to them. And Carson, according to the film, could appeal to young people who are fed up with politicians who “lie to them on a regular basis.” A voter in the film says young people feel that politicians lie to them to get elected and then lie to them again to cover up “snafus and indecent acts” while in office.
Armstrong Williams, who produced the documentary, commented on Breitbart News Saturday that observing Carson in recent years after his retirement from neurosurgery has been like “watching Moses when he found out what God had for him—he became renewed and refreshed.”