2016 Presidential Candidate Profile: Ben Carson

Alexander J. Segal's picture

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Candidate Profile: Ben Carson

Current Office: None

Age: 64 (Born September 18, 1951)

Party: Republican

Real Clear Politics Poll Average (as of December 6, 2015): National 16.0% (2nd); Iowa 20.0% (2nd); New Hampshire 9.5% (4th)1

Campaign Website: bencarson.com

Ben Carson is running in the Republican primary for President. He is a retired pediatric neurosurgeon with no prior political experience. He is well-known for being a significant part of the first effort to separate conjoined twins at the head and for his well-regarded biographies.


Ben Carson has stated that while he does not support a path to citizenship for those in the United States illegally to obtain status as guest workers. Carson did not rule out allowing for a path to citizenship “down the road if they've done things the right way.”2 He has framed this as a moral issue and opposes mass deportation. He has pledged to focus on reducing the incentive for stay in the United States illegally by focusing on curtailing the benefits that those who are here illegally may obtain. Carson pledges to build a wall along the Mexican border and make use of technology to augment border security.


Ben Carson devoted a small section of his campaign website to Israel stating that “We must always stand with Israel and her people.” However, while I have no questions about his support for Israel, I do have serious questions about his foreign policy acumen. Carson has appeared to progress very little on foreign policy from when he burst on to the political scene. While his intentions with regard to Israel are undoubtedly in the right place, there are legitimate questions as to whether his lack of foreign policy knowledge and experience would ultimately prove to be deleterious to Israel.

Issue of Interest — Outsider Appeal and Policy Acumen:

Ben Carson is one of the three candidates in the field with no prior experience in elected office (along with Donald Trump [see blog] and Carly Fiorina [see blog]). His outsider appeal combined with his personal biography, mild temperament, and religious faith helped him challenge Trump's lead on top of the polls in October. However, Carson's surge has proven to be less durable, and he has begun to hemorrhage support, especially to Senator Ted Cruz [see blog] in recent polls in Iowa. With Carson's star falling, the question is now whether he can develop detailed and coherent policy proposals and demonstrate a better command of the issues in order to remain a fixture in the top tier of the Republican field.


Carson had an indisputably remarkable career in medicine. Furthermore, despite his penchant for controversial statements, he seems by all accounts to be a decent man. However, despite the voting fast approaching, Carson has developed little in the way of concrete policy proposals or in showing that he has a command of the issues facing this country today befitting of a top Republican candidate for President. For all of his personal virtues, I cannot recommend supporting him in a strong primary field that also contains many more qualified candidates such as Cruz [see blog], Marco Rubio [see blog], Chris Christie [see blog], and Jeb Bush [see blog].


  1. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_republican_presidential_nomination-3823.html (Retrieved December 6, 2015)
  2. Tuttle, Ian, “Ben Carson's Immigration Plan,” National Review Online, (September 13, 2015), available at http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/ben-carson-immigration-plan-ian-tuttle

Resources and Materials:


2016 Presidential Candidate Profile:  Ben Carson