Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson poses Monday for a photo with students from Greene County High School following a campaign speech at Abundant Life Ministries in Jefferson. The Iowa caucuses are Feb. 1. ANDREW McGINN | JEFFERSON HERALDRepublican presidential candidate Ben Carson addresses a crowd Monday at Abundant Life Ministries in Jefferson. ANDREW McGINN | JEFFERSON HERALD

Carson draws biggest crowd yet on local campaign trail

Famed surgeon draws 140 to event at Abundant Life


In the final push to the Iowa caucuses, Ben Carson might be the living embodiment of “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

The fabled neurosurgeon’s delivery on the campaign trail is soothing to the point that it has to be wondered if he ever even needed an anesthesiologist for a single one of his 15,000 career operations.

But since Dec. 31, the 2016 Republican presidential candidate has been carrying around a big stick in the form of a two-star general, and during one of two introductions of Dr. Carson Monday in Jefferson at Abundant Life Ministries, Retired Army Maj. Gen. Bob Dees said Carson has the “right reflexes” to be commander in chief.

Dees said Carson is the most qualified candidate based on a career spent making life or death decisions when the phone rings at 2 in the morning.

“That’s been his whole life,” said Dees, who was named Carson’s campaign chairman during a widely publicized campaign shakeup during the holidays.

For his first appearance in Jefferson — not counting a confusing, Carson-less visit to town before Christmas by the candidate’s tour bus — Carson also was joined by leadership expert, author and pastor John C. Maxwell, who essentially vouched for Carson as the anti-Trump.

“Ben Carson is a man who is bigger on the inside than he is on the outside,” Maxwell said, explaining that Carson has “got his act together.”

“And God knows we need leadership,” Maxwell added.

Speaking to a crowd of about 140 — the largest yet in Greene County this caucus season for a candidate — Carson highlighted his new, 14.9-percent flat tax plan, called for a six-month hiatus on corporate taxes in order to bring more than $2.1 trillion back to U.S. shores and repeatedly said he’s not a politician.

He said he was looking forward to retirement — after 29 years as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore — when he undertook a presidential bid funded by the people.

“I was never going to have to set an alarm clock again,” he joked.

Carson said he believes special interests are ruining the country, which is why he forgoes money from “billionaires.”

“The pundits forgot about one important source of funding: We the people,” Carson said.

That much was evident by a booth set up Monday in the church lobby to sell Carson hats, buttons and other memorabilia. The guy running the booth was particularly proud of a button with Carson’s head on Superman’s body proclaiming, “SUPERBEN 2016.”

Whether he’ll be able to beat Republican frontrunner Lex Luthor — er, Donald Trump — in Iowa on Feb. 1 isn’t looking likely.

According to a new poll of Iowa Republicans released Monday by Quinnipiac University, Trump continues to lead the field of GOP candidates with 31 percent support, followed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, with 29 percent and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, with 15 percent.

In the new poll, Carson finds himself in fourth place with 7 percent support (down from 10 percent in Quinnipiac’s December poll).

Even so, Jefferson Republican Matt Gordon, who attended the event Monday at Abundant Life wanting to hear Carson in person, said he believes the former surgeon is the most electable of his party’s candidates.

“Carson has a chance,” Gordon said, saying he feels Carson is one of the most honest and intelligent candidates. “And I don’t think we need another lifelong politician in office. We need something different.”

Gordon said he also likes Carson’s Christian values, which Carson himself would reference multiple times during his speech.

Only the second person behind Billy Graham to be asked to speak twice at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson provided some insight into “Gifted Hands,” the title of his autobiography, saying he once encountered a 4-year-old boy with a seemingly inoperable brain stem tumor.

“The parents said, ‘The Lord is going to heal our son,’ ” Carson recalled.

Even Carson doubted whether surgery would be successful.

“Today,” Carson said, “he is a minister.”

“From then on,” he added, “God became the neurosurgeon and I became the hands.”

He said he based his tax plan — in which deductions and all loopholes would be eliminated  and everyone would be assessed a flat, 14.9 percent rate — on the Bible and the concept of tithing.

God, he said, didn’t say to give triple in the event of a bumper harvest.

“There must be something fair about proportionality if it works for God,” he said.

Carson also presented himself as a Washington outsider, saying the government has $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities (including Medicare and Medicaid), yet holds trillions in assets and owns 900,000 buildings (77,000 of which are underused).

“We don’t run the government like a business,” he said. “We run it like amateur hour.”

His six-month hiatus on corporate taxes to bring trillions back to the U.S. from overseas would stipulate only that 10 percent has to be used in poor parts of the nation he calls enterprise zones.

“That would be the biggest stimulus deal since FDR’s New Deal and wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything,” he said.

He also said that the U.S. was designed by and for the people, saying that when the government begins to dictate, as in the case of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it “changes America.”

“If we accept it, it’s really the beginning of the end of America as we know it,” he said.

Carson fielded only three questions from the public during his visit, which was marked by a heavy Secret Service presence.

Carson’s wife, Candy, made a brief cameo on stage at the end of his remarks, delighting the crowd with her only words: “I’m Candy Carson and I approve this message.”

Contact Us

Jefferson Bee & Herald
Address: 200 N. Wilson St.
Jefferson, IA 50129

Phone:(515) 386-4161