Renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson inched closer to declaring a 2016 run for the White House on Thursday, saying that while he never expected to seek public office, "the good Lord had a different plan for me."
Asked by Steve Malzberg on Newsmax TV about several grass-roots campaigns to draft him for a presidential run on the Republican ticket, Carson said:
"As far as my running for public office, that was never my intention. I thought when I retired I was going to play golf and learn how to play an organ.
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"But, obviously, the good Lord had a different plan for me. I will obviously listen, but that is not what I really had intended to do."
Carson, the former chief for pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said his goal is to "make sure the American people have their eyes open and recognize what's happening and understand that we the people are not each other's enemies.
"The enemies are those people jerking everybody's chains and trying to make them think they're enemies and driving in wedges at particular … to divide and conquer."
Carson opposes President Barack Obama's ongoing call for a $2.85 hike in the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour, or around $15,000 a year.
"No one should expect to start out making a lot of money … I worked many, many jobs as a youngster growing up in Detroit. Many of them didn't even pay minimum wage but what they did pay me was an opportunity for me to gain significant experience," Carson said.
"In one case, I took a job as a lab assistant at my high school but I learned enough that I was able to compete successfully against college kids for a lab position at a university when I was still in high school. I couldn't have gotten that if I hadn't done the various low-wage jobs.
He said Americans need to "recognize that there's an actual progression that occurs as you make yourself more valuable.
"But you have to have some place to start and if we make that learning place a point where employers have to pay you more than you actually bring to the job … what that is doing is hurting particularly our young people. They need a place to start. So we have to be able to look at the big picture."
Carson also spoke of the value of reading and urged people to limit the amount of time they watch television.
"I've been asking [people to] promise themselves that they will subtract half an hour or an hour a day from their television watching and read," he said.
"Learn something, pick up an American history book, a world history book, an algebra book, something. You would be amazed at how much you will know after a year of just doing that."
He said he picked up the habit from his mother.
"My mother observed as … she worked as a domestic cleaning other people's houses, [that] these tended to be very successful people and where we lived there tended to be a lot of unsuccessful people," Carson said.
"She noticed they read a lot and they didn't look at a lot of television and they didn't waste a lot of time. So she came home and imposed that upon us. We were, of course, quite disgruntled.
"Her friends just criticized her severely. 'You can't make boys stay in the house and read books! They'll grow up but they'll hate you. I would say, mother you know they're right, but she wasn't going to listen to that. We had to do it."
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