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.