Ben Carson Probably Isn’t the Key to Republicans’ Winning the White House

He’s got political skills—just maybe not the kinds of skills that make presidents.

Dr. Ben Carson at the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference, March 8, 2014, in National Harbor, Md. T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Experience Counts

Unlike Paul—also a doctor, but who ran for Senate before gearing up to run for the White House—or Cruz, who came in second in the straw poll and first served as Texas’ solicitor general, Carson has never held office. It’s unclear how Republicans would rally around him after arguing that “inexperience” is what made President Obama—a state and U.S. senator—unfit for office.

CPAC attendee Paige Perkins, an African-American college student who blogs for Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, described Carson as a “humanizing” and “energizing” figure in conservative politics, but told me “it would be great if he ran for Senate” before running for president.

The ‘Only’ Guy?

While Robinson of the Draft Ben Carson campaign argues that Carson is “the only guy” who can broaden the GOP base, that’s strange logic to hear from someone on the far right.

Many have complained bitterly that one of the reasons President Obama was twice elected is that “low-information” black voters only voted for him because he’s black. But if Carson—as opposed to any other conservative—is the “only” guy who can broaden the GOP base, that’s either an indictment of the black electorate or an indictment of thinking within Carson’s camp.

Carson’s personal success story—telling conventioneers that “I used to belong to the 47 percent”—still inspires. And he’s well-suited for his current gig as Obama’s antagonist in chief.

But a presidential run is a lot to put on the shoulders of a guy who’s never run for office and whose platform is a loosely sketched 10 percent flat tax, health savings accounts and holding fast to the theory that gay couples don’t deserve “extra rights,” even as courts in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah and Texas—none of them liberal outposts—have been ruling that same-sex-marriage bans are unconstitutional. And that, as I’ve said before, really isn’t brain surgery.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor for The Root. Follow him on Twitter.