Time for 2016 ads? Ben Carson kicks off presidential campaign season.

Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon beloved by the right, will be the focus of an hour-long infomercial advertisement in 22 states this weekend.

Brian Witte/AP
Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon Ben Carson (r.) attends a legislative prayer breakfast in Annapolis, Md., in 2013.

Don’t look now, but a 2016 presidential ad will air on a television near you this weekend.

That’s right, the first campaign spot of the season. They’re like Christmas decorations – you can’t escape them. They start appearing before you can bear it. Then you get used to the whole thing and begin to imagine they’re a normal part of life.

The potential candidate in question, or culprit if you prefer, is Ben Carson. He’s the pediatric neurosurgeon beloved by conservatives who’s been obviously preparing for a run for quite some time. He – or rather his friend and business manager Armstrong Williams – has paid to broadcast a nearly hour-long documentary titled, “A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America” on various channels in 22 states and the District of Columbia on Saturday and Sunday.

It sounds like info-ad will be a pure biography effort, detailing Dr. Carson’s rise from son of a single mom to famed Johns Hopkins physician. That makes sense for a possible candidate who’s little known by the public at large.

We’re pretty sure it won’t actually say “Vote Ben Carson 2016,” since he hasn’t actually officially declared his candidacy yet, so that wouldn’t be kosher. He has actually signed up as a Republican, though. He announced over the weekend that he’d switched registration from Independent to Republican in his domicile of Florida. And here we just assumed he was GOP all along.

Carson became an instant star on the right via his speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where he criticized political correctness, the growing national debt, and high taxes – in front of President Obama. In July, he easily won a straw poll at a conference of conservative activists in Denver.

Overall, he’s still got a lot of work to do if he’s going to make an impact, though. He was the presidential choice of only 7 percent of GOP respondents in an October ABC News poll.

He’s a non-politician, which his supporters see as a good thing. But the last non-politician to win a presidential nomination was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who’d just helped win World War II. Also, his tendency to overstate things could be a problem. He’s openly wondered whether there will even be a 2016 vote, “because there might be so much anarchy going on.”

Republican leaders hope that, if nothing else, Carson, an African-American, can help the party woo more black voters. They could use some assistance. In the 2010 midterms, the GOP got about 9 percent of the black vote, according to exit poll data analyzed by The Washington Post. In the 2012 presidential race, they got 6 percent. In the 2014 midterms they got 10 percent.

Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky has argued that the right Republican candidate could attract up to 30 percent of the African-American vote. The party’s got a way to go to hit that goal.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.