Ben Carson, famed neurosurgeon, running for president

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Ben Carson: What to Know About the Political Newcomer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon turned conservative star, has confirmed that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Carson, who has never run for public office, is expected to be the only high-profile African-American to enter the GOP's presidential primary as he tries to parlay his success as an author and speaker into a competitive campaign against established politicians.

"I'm willing to be part of the equation and therefore, I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States of America," he said in an interview aired Sunday night by Ohio's WKRC television station.

He is set to make a more formal announcement during a speech from his native Detroit on Monday.

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Ben Carson through the years
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Ben Carson, famed neurosurgeon, running for president
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 12: (JAPAN OUT) (VIDEO CAPTURE) In this image from video Dr. Ben Carson talks about his life and education August 12, 2001 in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Carson was profiled for a CNN program called 'America's Best: Science and Medicine,' for his preeminence in the field of neurosurgery. (Photo by CNN via Getty Images)
Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, Ben Carson, Ralph Abernathy and Levy Watkins at Johns Hopkins University during a celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, Baltimore, Maryland, 1980. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Dr. Donlin Long, director of neurosurgery, left, and Dr. Ben Carson director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.,, holds a brain model of the conjoined twins who separated in a 22-hour surgery, Sept. 7, 1987. (AP Photo/Fred Kraft)
FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2004, file photo, Dr. Ben Carson, then-director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, holds a model of the heads of conjoined twins Tabea and Lea Block of Lemgo, Germany, during a news conference in Baltimore. Carson is the only 2016 candidate for president who has never led a state or company or run for political office, but the retired neurosurgeon maintains that someone who can lead life-or-death operations surely can run the country. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)
Darius Rucker, Candy Carson and Dr. Ben Carson M.D., president and co-founder of Carson Scholars Fund (Photo by Louis Myrie/WireImage)
President Bush places the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Johns Hopkins University's director of pediatric neurosurgery Dr. Ben Carson, as he takes part in a ceremony for the 2008 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Thursday, June 19, 2008, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, right, signs a book for Delegate William Frank, R-Baltimore County, in Annapolis, Md., Friday, March 8, 2013 after Carson, who is director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, spoke at a legislative prayer breakfast. Carson said Friday that while people have been urging him to run for president, he doesn’t aspire to run for office. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson is interviewed during a live streaming Web-A-Thon with Wake Up America September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson speaks as the keynote speaker at the Wake Up America gala Event September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson (C) chats with guests after a live streaming Web-A-Thon with Wake Up America September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
Dr. Ben Carson, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 8, 2014. Saturday marks the third and final day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US conservative Ben Carson is surrounded by supporters as he waits to be interviewed at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington,DC on February 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon, addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Carson is the author of 'One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save Americas Future' and 'America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great'. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US conservative Ben Carson addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on February 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Ben Carson attends the National Action Network (NAN) national convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on April 8, 2015 in New York City. The network, founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991 is hosting various politicians, organizers and religious leaders to talk about the nation's most pressing issues. The conservative Carson is widely rumored to be considering a GOP presidential run in 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Ben Carson arrives to speak during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 4: Republican Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, speaks as he officially announces his candidacy for President of the United States at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts May 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Carson was scheduled to travel today to Iowa, but changed his plans when his mother became critically ill. He now will be traveling to Dallas instead to be with his mother Sonya. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
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Carson earned national acclaim during 29 years leading the pediatric neurosurgery unit of Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, where he still lives. He directed the first surgery to separate twins connected at the back of the head. His career was notable enough to inspire the 2009 movie, "Gifted Hands," with actor Cuba Gooding Jr. depicting Carson.

"I see myself as a member of 'we the people,'" he told the Associated Press in an interview earlier this year, arguing that his lack of experience is an asset.

"I see myself as a logical American who has common sense," he continued, "and I think that's going to resonate with a lot of American, regardless of their political party."

The 63-year-old Detroit native remains largely unknown outside of conservative activists who have embraced him since his address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where he offered a withering critique of the modern welfare state and the nation's overall direction.

The speech restated themes from Carson's 2012 book "America the Beautiful," but he excited conservatives by doing so with President Barack Obama sitting just feet away.

Carson has since become a forceful critic of the nation's first black president on everything from health care to foreign policy. Carson also offers himself as a counter to other notable African-American commentators with more liberal views.

Most recently, Carson has spoken out on the unrest in his hometown, where residents have protested and rioted in the wake of Freddie Gray dying while in custody of the Baltimore Police Department. In a Time op-ed, Carson decried the protests and related vandalism as "gross misconduct."

Carson moved to Palm Beach, Florida, after his retirement from Johns Hopkins, but he is announcing his campaign in his hometown of Detroit, where his mother raised him and his brother in poverty.

He attributes his politics to his upbringing, often describing his neighborhood culture as one where residents celebrating any new announcement of government support. Still, he acknowledges that his mother received welfare aid, and he insists that he supports "a safety net for the people who need a safety net."

Carson is a staunch social conservative, opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage, views he attributes to his personal faith as a practicing Christian.

He has more complex views on health care and foreign policy, including statements that could put him at odds with the most conservative branches of his party.

He has compared the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature legislative achievement, to slavery. Yet Carson also has blasted for-profit insurance companies; called for stricter regulations - including of prices - of health care services; and said government should offer a nationalized insurance program for catastrophic care.

Carson pitches himself as a staunch supporter of Israel in its disputes with other Middle Eastern nations, and he has hammered Obama on his dealings in the region. But in his earlier writings, Carson criticized the U.S. for historically being too eager to wage war.





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