Ben Carson Tells Roland Martin He Doesn’t Like Political ‘Boxes or Labels’


For a guy who says that running for president is “not something that I really want to do,” Dr. Ben Carson—world-renowned neurosurgeon, philanthropist and author—sure is making a lot of moves in that direction.


Last month he made his second headline appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the largest annual gathering of conservative activists; he’s launching a new magazine for black conservatives; and Friday morning he sat down to talk to NewsOne’s Roland Martin.

If you’ve been following Carson’s transition from physician to TV talking head for the last couple of years, his comments on Martin’s show really weren’t anything new to you. But if you still think of Carson primarily as the guy admirably portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the biopic Gifted Hands—the first man to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head—then Martin’s interview treated you to the full range of Carson’s rapidly flourishing political supplication.


He did his usual inveighing against the specter of political correctness—which has delighted conservative audiences ever since he jammed up President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast last year.

Despite his ascendance on Fox News and in far-right circles, when asked about being a conservative, Carson hedged, telling Martin, “I don’t like boxes or labels.”

Discussing his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, he went as far as asserting that “if you make health care a right, you also have to make clothing a right.”

Regarding his remark last year at the Values Voter Summit that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” to which he added, at the time, “It is slavery, in a way,” he didn’t exactly walk his comments back. But after Martin said that even for those who oppose it, Obamacare doesn’t come anywhere close to slavery, Carson demurred, saying, “I never said it did. I said it was the worst thing since slavery.”


Ah. Glad we cleared that up.

Credit Martin for scoring the interview and bringing Carson and his plainly right-tilting but—at least for now—unlabeled platform to a black news network and an audience that leans closer to the Democrats’ policy agenda than the Republicans’.


And if Carson makes a run for the White House, this pitch to an African-American constituency would be in keeping with the view of Vernon Robinson, who heads up the National Draft Ben Carson for President super PAC and says that Carson is “the only guy who can broaden the GOP base, get 17 percent of the black vote, get a healthy number of Hispanic voters, while still staying true to conservative ideals.”


But as I’ve written before, Carson’s biggest impediment to becoming a credible candidate is that he’s got no practical political experience: “You would no sooner ask Carson to order an airstrike than you'd look to Obama to separate conjoined twins.”


Carson has some interesting—if not fully fleshed-out—ideas about health savings accounts as an alternative to the current health-coverage system. He’s popular on the right, and increasingly, he seems like he’s relishing the spotlight.

At a minimum, he’s doing a heckuva job pitching his new book and magazine. Perhaps we’ll find out soon if we can add the word “candidate” to Carson’s résumé.


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

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

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