A grassroots campaign to draft Dr. Ben Carson for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination has been enormously successful, with supporters kicking in some $7 million in donations, its founder tells Newsmax TV.
"It's astonishing,'' John Philip Sousa IV, co-founder and chairman of the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, said on Newsmax's "The Steve Malzberg Show.''
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"To think that we've been doing this for less than a year, that we raised over $7 million, that we are within 12 hours of getting our 100,000th individual donor, and we have 17,000 volunteers. It's unprecedented.''
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon turned political columnist, indicated to Steve Malzberg this week he is "a step closer'' to throwing his hat in the ring — and Sousa believes he is a highly viable candidate.
"We're in real, real trouble and who can fix it? We believe very strongly that Dr. Carson is either the only person or one of the very few people who can really turn America around and make us the country of exceptionalism again, which we are no longer,'' Sousa said.
"I mean it's sad to say, I hate to say it, but that's where we are.''
Sousa added that Carson's acclaimed work as a pediatric neurosurgeon — he first to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head — is also a plus.
"Think about the process one would go through to figure out how to separate conjoined twins so that both halves live,'' he said.
"The arteries, the nerves, the brains, everything that's involved with that and Dr. Carson did that.
"If he can do that, he can fix our immigration problem, he can fix the economy. He's a smart guy, he uses commonsense, he relies on the Constitution and that's what we need today.''
But Sousa, who is the great-grandson of famed "Stars and Stripes Forever'' composer John Philip Sousa, also acknowledged that Carson will also face severe and unwarranted criticism from the media for his conservative ideology.
"He's going to be the 'Uncle Tom,' he's going to be the traitor, he's going to be called all kinds of names that have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on who and what this gentleman is,'' Sousa said.
"That's the media. If you're a conservative, you come to expect it and you build it into your plan and it's sadly part of everyday life.''
What does Sousa think are the chances of Carson — who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2008 — taking the political plunge?
"When we started this there was a little tiny flame like on a birthday candle and now it's a raging bonfire,'' Sousa said.
"If I were a gambling man, and you said is Carson going to run, I wouldn't bet the whole farm, but I'd sure bet the barn at this point.''
Interest in Carson has dramatically increased in recent months.
He was the top vote-getter
in a 2016 presidential straw poll at the recent Western Conservative Summit in Denver.
Carson took 22 percent of the votes cast by 666 of the conference’s 3,300 attendees. He was followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 13 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 12 percent.
Others in the top 10 were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, former Florida Rep. Allen West, and Wisconsin Sen. Paul Ryan.
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