Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has launched an exploratory committee as a precursor to a bid for the White House in 2016, The Wall Street Journal
The 63-year-old conservative favorite, who has never run for office, is one of the first potential candidates to form a formal committee aimed at raising money to explore a bid.
He has also hired a number of staff and aides, including a national finance director and state-based operatives in Iowa and South Carolina who work for his political action committee.
An exploratory committee would enable him to raise money which could transfer to his campaign should he choose to run, the Journal said.
Carson is already demonstrating support among Republican voters. In a Public Policy Polling survey
released last week, Carson came in second behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, with 18 percent support.
And in the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll
this weekend, he placed fourth behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Walker, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Carson's campaign chief executive, Terry Giles, said in January that Caron was likely to formally declare his candidacy in May. In the meantime, he has scheduled a number of paid speeches through April, the Journal said.
Giles also said the campaign will soon announce the addition of "major players" to its team.
Carson said on NBC's "Meet the Press"
on Sunday that he was "seeing a very substantial amount of support across the country in red states, blue states, North, South, East, West" for a potential bid.
"If I were to run and were to win, I would have very different vision [from President Barack Obama]. It would be a vision of putting the Constitution back on the top shelf. It would be a vision of making our government understand that it works for the people," he said.
"And that the government responds to the will of the people, and not picking and choosing who should win and lose, what laws we want to enforce. And our laws that we enforce have nothing to do with our own personal beliefs. It has to do with the laws and the constitutions of this country."
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