Ben Carson's campaign bus sits last month on the Square for people to tour. The neurosurgeon and 2016 Republican presidential candidate wasn't in attendance, leading to some confusion. He has since scheduled a personal visit to Jefferson on Monday. JEFFERSON HERALD FILE PHOTO

‘There’s not one ounce of ego’

Carson draws 300 to Panora campaign event; Jefferson event slated for Jan. 11


PANORA — Cheryl Castile echoed other Guthrie County supporters of Ben Carson in describing the physician’s White House campaign as long on Christian conviction, light on self promotion.

“He just really connects with every person so individually,” Castile said. “You can relate to him because he is so real. I think one of the things that really brought things together is his ability to really use common sense.”

Castile, who chairs Carson’s efforts in Guthrie County, added, “There’s not one ounce of ego.”

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and best-selling author living in West Palm Beach, Fla., drew about 300 people to Veterans Auditorium in downtown Panora Wednesday afternoon for a speech and question-and-answer session.

Carson compared modern America to the Roman Empire before its fall, saying voters today are “rightly worried.”

“What will bring America down is the ‘what-can-you-do-for-me’ mentality,” Carson said.

Carson said he’s visited 57 nations, but never encountered one with the force of ideas found in the United States.

“Is there a Canadian dream or a French dream or a Brazilian dream or Nigerian dream?” he asked.

Carson pulled sustained applause when he said Muslims who accept Sharia (Islamic) law hold views that are incompatible with American democracy and should not be elected to the presidency.

“We have an incredible culture, and American way,” he said.

Immigrants of all faiths and races should be accepted into the United States as long as they are properly screened and willing to assimilate, Carson said.

“If they want to change us, they need to stay where they are,” he said.

Vietnam War-era Air Force veteran Bob Lebischak, of Guthrie Center, asked Carson if he’d place constraints on the U.S. military to prevent men and women in uniform from doing their jobs in combat zones.

“There is no such thing as a politically correct war,” Carson said.

Moving to economic issues, Carson proposes a six-month tax hiatus for companies who bring the money back to the United States. His only requirement: 10 percent of that money must be invested in poorer parts of the nation in so-called enterprise zones.

“That would be the biggest stimulus since FDR’s New Deal and it wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a penny,” Carson said.

Citizens for Tax Justice and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund reports that the 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes, and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds, according to Reuters.

Another Carson proposal: keep students responsible for the principal payments on college loans, but require the colleges they attend to pick up the interest costs.

“It’s always about skin in the game,” he said, predicting that post-secondary costs would fall under such an arrangement.

Carson also pledged strong support for the 2nd Amendment and criticized the Obama administration’s efforts at more restrictions on gun sales through executive orders.

“Taking guns away from law-abiding citizens does nothing,” Carson said.

Several presidential candidates have visited Guthrie County this cycle, but Carson is only the second, along with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, to campaign in Panora.

“It speaks well of Panora, really,” said Tom Bacon, a resident of the city who also serves as chairman of the Veterans Board that oversees the auditorium.

He helped organize the event, which involved a heavy Secret Service presence.

Juanita Greenlee, 76, of Panora, said she plans to support Carson in the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses.

“I like his faith,” said Greenlee, who attends the Baptist Church in Guthrie Center. “I like his willingness to put it on the front line. I like his quiet demeanor. I like the way he realizes he can’t do it all. He’s going to need some help, but he’s going to pick the help that knows what needs to be done. I think he has a very reasonable agenda.”

Greenlee said she would like to see a Carson-Sen. Ted Cruz ticket, but wondered if the Texas Republican senator would have the humility to politically co-pilot a White House run for Carson.

“I doubt it,” she said. “But they might actually compliment each other.”

Mike Arganbright said Carson has strong philosophical moorings.

“The things I liked about his message is it’s back to the basics that made us a great country,” said Arganbright, 76, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force living in rural Guthrie County, southeast of Panora.

Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the land, in 2008.

In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and Time magazine as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists.

Carson is a prolific writer and author, having published eight books, including his autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” and two titles that were New York Times bestsellers, “America the Beautiful,” “Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great,” and “One Nation, What We All Can Do to Save America’s Future,” which was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for 20 weeks, five of those weeks at No. 1.

“Gifted Hands” was the subject of the award-winning, made-for-television movie under the same title in which Cuba Gooding Jr. played Carson in the leading role.

“He may be too smart to run for president,” joked Craig Williams, of Manning, a member of the Iowa Republican Party’s state central committee who is neutral in the presidential caucuses at this point.

Carson in Jefferson: How to go
Who: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson
When: 11:45 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11; doors open at 10:30 a.m.
Where: Abundant Life Ministries, 1308 W. Lincoln Way

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