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Ben Carson: Know Your 2016 Presidential Candidate.

Dr. Ben Carson is the fourth Republican to enter the Presidential race, but the first who isn’t a sitting U.S. Senator. In fact, he has never held elected office and has no other political experience either.

Dr. Carson’s journey to the 2016 race began in 2013 when he was invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. There, with President Obama sitting just feet away, he ripped into the President’s policies. Dr. Carson later relayed that event organizers claimed the White House was “very upset” and wanted Carson to call and apologize. He elected not to do so.

Prior to the National Prayer Breakfast speech, Dr. Carson was primarily known for his ground-breaking medical career. At age 33 he was the youngest major division director in the history of Johns Hopkins Hospital when he became Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery in 1985. In 1987 he led a 70-member team through a 22-hour, first-of-its-kind surgical procedure to successfully separate conjoined twins connected at the back of the head.
Source: Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images
In his autobiography, Gifted Hands, Carson recounts his struggles with anger management during a troubled childhood. Growing up in a single-parent home, he and his brother were frequently in trouble and performing poorly in school. However, his uneducated mother was determined that they have access to better opportunities and began limiting their play time, requiring they read two library books per week and provide her with written reports. Even though she could barely read them, she pretended to study the reports closely before giving her approval. The strict regimen helped Carson discover his love of learning and science. The autobiography was later adapted into a television movie of the same name starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Because he has not held or even run for elected office in the past, less is known of his views in terms of specifics compared to most other candidates. Nevertheless, his speeches, articles, and interviews have contributed to the following list of positions.

On Healthcare

Dr. Carson is critical of Obamacare, which his campaign website calls a “looming disaster.” He has even said that it is “a bunch of crap” to suggest that Obamacare can’t be undone.

In a Washington Times op-ed, he said that while it’s positive that “many Americans who previously had no insurance were able to obtain insurance through Obamacare … it is bad that they had to obtain their insurance through someone else’s suffering.”

He has not provided much specifics for healthcare reform, but says “we need to remove health care from the political arena and recognize that any government proposals affecting the health of all citizens should be free market-based and should be so appealing that it would not be necessary to force citizens into the program.”

He has offered support for Health Savings Accounts, which his campaign website says will “empower families to make their own decisions about their medical treatment,” and “drive down health care costs while protecting patient choice and freedom.”

They were also featured in his Prayer Breakfast speech:
“Here’s my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed — pretax — from the time you’re born ’til the time you die. When you die, you can pass it on to your family members, so that when you’re 85 years old and you got six diseases, you’re not trying to spend up everything. You’re happy to pass it on and there’s nobody talking about death panels.”

He went on to suggest that for those in need of financial assistance, it should simply be added to their individual HSAs rather than managed by a government bureaucracy.

On Foreign Policy and Security

Given his lengthy medical career and lack of political experience, it’s little surprise that Dr. Carson frankly admits a lack of expertise in foreign affairs. “I’m in the process of acquiring a lot of information,” he has said, while acknowledging, “There’s a lot of material to learn.” Yet he also rejects the idea that a good leader must be an expert in all things, arguing, “if you go to … a very well-run hospital, you’re going to have a president of the hospital or chief administrator. He probably doesn’t know a whole lot about … neurosurgery or pediatric infectious disease. But he knows how to put together a structure where the strength of all those departments work effectively.”

Despite those admissions, he has provided insight into his approach to foreign policy. For instance, he has made a point of criticizing Russia, which his campaign website says is “dangerously belligerent,” and “actively destabilizing Ukraine, endangering Europe in the process and continuing to fuel destabilization in the Middle East.”

On the other hand, in a 2013 interview with The Daily Caller, Carson staked out a more cautious position, expressing opposition to the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan. On Iraq, he said he wrote President Bush before the war saying, “what I would do is I would use the bully pulpit at this moment of great national unity and, very much in a Kennedy-esque type fashion, say within 10 years we’re going to become petroleum independent.”

He contends that would have scared moderate Arab states into handing over bin Laden and denied terrorists funding. On Afghanistan he said, “I personally would not have [gone to war in Afghanistan] because, you know, you’ve got to look at the history of Afghanistan. You’ve got 300 tribal leaders throughout the country who have never been united in anything so who are you going to negotiate with? How are you going to achieve peace in a situation like that?”

Nevertheless, he maintains that “As the pinnacle nation in the world, we play a critical role in the direction of the world. I think we have to be active.” He also emphasizes the “special relationship with Israel” and says, “We must always stand with Israel and her people.”

On Religious Persecution
In an article for National Review, Dr. Carson warns against “The Spreading Scourge of Christian Persecution.” He describes, “images showing the persecution of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of our fellow brothers and sisters by incomprehensible religious zealots. Their intolerance of Christianity is beyond horrible. People are beheaded for their faith. Women and young girls are sexually violated, and whole families are wantonly slaughtered in cold blood.”

“Governments need to decry such persecution, and root it out wherever and whenever they can,” he concludes.

On Marijuana Legalization
Dr. Carson supports access to marijuana for strictly medical purposes, but warned in an interview against negative consequences of broad legalization. He said, “Medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases has been proven to be useful, but recognize that marijuana is what is known as a gateway drug – a starter for people who move on to heavier duty drugs. I don’t think this is something we really want for our society.”

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