Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned neurosurgeon, has surged in the polls and upped his fundraising throughout the summer and into the fall election season, and his small-government message is resonating with voters from every walk of life.
Carson remains the only Republican contender who consistently beats Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in head-to-head polling matchups, according to Real Clear Politics
, and experts say he's primed to overtake current frontrunner Donald Trump in the coming months.
Gathered below are 15 reasons the doctor's prescription for America is connecting with everyday voters.
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1. He is not part of the political establishment
— "Jeb Bush is a very nice man, I like him. But this is just not the right time to be named Bush — or Clinton," Carson told Newsmax this week
. While many professional pundits favor dynastic, establishment candidates this year, polling shows that everyday Americans are in favor of electing a man or woman from outside the gridlocked legislatures and do-nothing executive branches. Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson all fit that bill, but Carson differentiates himself with not only business acumen, but priceless, unshakable leadership experience in the field of hands-on medicine, where lives are regularly on the line.
2. He is a man of faith
— Carson is a former Sunday school teacher, and he frequently cites scripture as a guiding force in his life. In a recent interview with Fox News
, he quoted the third and 22nd chapter of Proverbs, saying, "With humility and the fear of the Lord, that is where life and riches come from."
3. He embodies and understands the American dream
— Raised by a single mother in a tough neighborhood, Carson has said his mother Sonya kept him and his brother on the straight-and-narrow. In high school, he enrolled in the JROTC, and went on to attend college at Yale University. He then obtained his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School.
4. He values his conservative colleagues
— "Donald Trump is a very talented individual," Carson told Newsmax on Monday. Asked if he would consider Trump for his political cabinet, he responded, "he could bring some wisdom somewhere along the line and there would be room for him somewhere — absolutely."
5. He is accomplished
— Carson was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center at age 33, becoming the youngest person ever appointed to direct a major division at that distinguished institution.
6. He has leadership experience in medicine and business
— In addition to performing the first successful surgery on twins conjoined at the head, Carson, a Yale graduate, has also sat on the boards of Costco, Kellogg, and Vaccinogen, a biotechnology company, and launched a national non-profit. "Perhaps a lot of people don't know this, but I've actually done things in my life other than medicine. I have decades of experience on corporate boards," Carson said in an interview with Fox News earlier this month.
7. He is a consistent social conservative
— Carson has a long record of opposing abortion and gay marriage, and standing up for religious rights. This summer, following the legalization of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court, Carson stated, "I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected. The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs." Unlike many Republicans, Carson is unafraid of speaking matter-of-factly about his stance on social issues.
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8. He has huge support from the grassroots
— Carson's sizable war-chest of $31 million dollars, raised since announcing his candidacy in May, is made up in large part of small donations given by everyday Americans. At the end of June, 68 percent of his campaign contributions came from small donors.
9. He is a leader
— Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2008, the highest civilian honor in the country. In 2001, the Library of Congress named him among 89 "Living Legends."
10. He has a gentle bedside manner
— In contrast to his rivals, especially Donald Trump, Carson takes a more measured — some would say thoughtful — approach to leadership. As Teddy Roosevelt would say, he "Speaks softly, but carries a big stick." Last month, he wrote an op-ed explaining that "one should never mistake soft-spokenness for weakness." As a pediatric neurosurgeon, Carson explained that "composure and calmness" helped him save a great many lives on the operating table.
11. He is not politically correct
— Carson said earlier this year that the policing of speech has "worked to shut people up." He went on to say, "We need to be in a place where people feel free to express themselves and not to be intimidated by political correctness. It’s destroying our nation."
12. He wants to repeal Obamacare
— Carson has been particularly vocal about repealing the Affordable Care Act, and has proposed an HSA plan in its stead. As a doctor and former medical director, "Carson speaks from a unique position of stature when it comes to health care," Politico wrote
13. He connects with white and minority voters
— During his time as head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Carson would frequently volunteer to speak to local school children in predominantly-black Baltimore about his journey to success. As a black man raised by a single mother, he has first-hand experience of what it's like to be a minority in America. Much like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Carson has integrated this experience into his political platform, strengthening his mission to lift up all Americans from every walk of life. Other candidates like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush have been criticized for their past comments on race.
14. He advocates for the fair, easy-to-understand flat tax
— Carson has proposed that all Americans pay the same percentage in federal taxes, regardless of their income. Unlike other flat-tax advocates like Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul, he would offer no exemptions.
15. He has gone head-to-head with Trump, and won
— Last month, Trump called Carson just an "O.K. doctor," a comment that left many scratching their heads, as the world-renowned surgeon has pioneered many never-before-seen surgeries and medical techniques. Instead of punching back after the comment, Carson politely declined to get into a "gladiator fight" with Trump — refusing to run a reactionary campaign. Carson's criticisms of Trump have been more subtle, such as last week's suggestion that Trump is not truly a man of faith. If Carson can continue to defuse Trump, he might be able to siphon away some of his supporters, and claim the Republican nomination.
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