Now that a new Fox News poll shows Dr. Ben Carson tied for first place with former Florida governor Jeb Bush among all potential 2016 Republican presidential nominees, it’s time that he prepared himself for a full scale assault by the mainstream media and by the same establishment Republicans who nominated George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.
Dr. Carson’s interview with Chris Cuomo of CNN is a perfect example of the inquisition he will face, only because he is a black conservative. In that interview he was asked, “Do you think being gay is a choice?” In response, Dr. Carson used the prison experience to support his point of view. He said, “… a lot of people who go into prison straight – and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”
That response was not sufficient to satisfy the mainstream media or gay activists. Instead, if he had been adequately prepped he might have said, “There is some clinical research which tends to show that most homosexuals are apparently born with that sexual orientation. However, we must also recognize that many men and women enter the prison population as heterosexuals, but then adopt a homosexual lifestyle while incarcerated… suggesting that, at some point, they chose to engage in homosexual behavior. What this tells us is that there is much we still don’t understand about the homosexual phenomenon.”
As a non-politician, Dr. Carson can expect to be probed even more intensely than his Republican counterparts, even though several competitors are first-term members of the U.S. Senate. Allow me to suggest some of the questions that will likely be put to Dr. Carson, along with some recommended responses:
Interviewer: “Dr. Carson, you are an internationally renowned neurosurgeon. Until recently you served as Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Serving as president of the United States is another matter entirely. With your background, what makes you think that you should be considered as a viable candidate for president of the United States?
Dr. Carson: “Well, I’m told that there are those who say that, given the mess that Barack Obama has made of things, he has essentially ruined things for any future black man who might have presidential ambitions, and that the American people may not elect another black president for generations to come. I would remind them that, after Jimmy Carter earned a reputation as the worst president in U.S. history, I don’t recall anyone suggesting that he’d ruined everything for all future white candidates. Instead, four years later, the people elected a conservative Republican, Ronald Reagan, who not only ended the Cold War but implemented tax policies that gave us a period of economic growth that actually produced revenue surpluses by the mid-90s.”
Interviewer: “In an April NPR interview, President Obama suggested that one of your rivals, Governor Scott Walker, should ‘bone up on foreign policy.’ What do you say to those who suggest that you would have even less experience in foreign affairs than Governor Walker?”
Dr. Carson: “I would suggest that Barack Obama is the last person who should be questioning someone else’s foreign policy credentials. For example, he spent most of his formative years, up to age ten, as a citizen of Indonesia; he has admitted that he visited Pakistan as a 20-year-old student and that he visited relatives in Kenya when he was in his mid-to-late twenties. Visiting relatives and seeing the sights in foreign lands as a child and as a young man has nothing to do with assessing political and economic conditions. In fact, if he’d learned anything at all from his travels he would have a far more positive view of American exceptionalism than he has today.”
Interviewer: “In the history of our country, only twelve of our forty-four presidents had no military service. You would be the first Republican since Herbert Hoover with no military service. That being the case, how would you propose to win the respect of those in the military services as their commander in chief?”
Dr. Carson: “The men and women of our armed forces are the finest that America has to offer. And I can assure you that, regardless of whatever military experience a president may or may not have, the people in our armed services are more than capable of understanding when their commander in chief has their back and whether or not he commands their respect. If I am given the opportunity to serve as their commander in chief, they will know that I will move Heaven and Earth to give them all the tools they need and that I will not send them on fools errands. They can also be assured that, when I do what is necessary to retrieve a man who has been charged with desertion, the release of five of the worst of the worst Islamic terrorists will not be among my bargaining chips.”
Interviewer: “Two of the early entrants into the 2016 Republican presidential primary are first term senators. As a physician, you have even less political experience than they. Don’t you think that the country needs and deserves a leader with far more experience?”
Dr. Carson: “I would point out to you that Barack Obama was a first-term senator when he ran for president and his failures may cause some to think twice about electing another first-term senator, or a pediatric neurosurgeon. However, it is important to realize that Obama’s failures are not a product of his inexperience. He has failed because his ideas and his policies are wrong for this country. In my thirty-six year career as a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, I have been required to make more life-or-death decisions in a week or a month than a president might be called upon to make in two terms in the White House. And, unlike Barack Obama, I have always been available when the really tough decisions had to be made.”
Interviewer: “Dr. Carson, if you are the nominee of the Republican Party, your likely Democrat opponent will be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. How do you respond to charges that she is highly experienced in foreign affairs while you have little or no experience in that realm?”
Dr. Carson: “Let’s look at the facts. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama engaged in a very bitter campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination, a campaign in which the Clintons charged that the Obama people played the “race card” on them in South Carolina. In the interest of party unity, Obama agreed to appoint Mrs. Clinton as Secretary of State. He gave her a large staff and the use of an airplane and told her to just travel… which she did… while foreign policy was made at the White House by Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Susan Rice. It’s impressive to hear Mrs. Clinton cite the number of miles she’s traveled and the number of countries she’s visited. However, when asked to name one accomplishment she can point to as Secretary of State, Democrats are strangely silent. As my colleague, Carly Fiorina, has correctly pointed out, Mrs. Clinton should understand that traveling is an ‘activity,’ not an ‘accomplishment.’ ”
Interviewer: “It is quite clear to everyone by now that Barack Obama and the Democrats are doing everything in their power to wrap up Hispanics as yet another captive voting constituency. In fact, they are talking about giving illegals Social Security cards, voter registration cards, free health care, free education, food stamps, and housing assistance. Since Republicans can’t be expected to enter into a bidding war for the hearts and minds of Hispanics, if you are elected president, how would you propose to counter that effort by the Democrats?”
Dr. Carson: “Your question presupposes that Hispanics would vote as a bloc for no better reason than that their votes are being bought. If I were a Hispanic I would be highly insulted by that suggestion. I believe that the members of our Hispanic population are among the hardest working people in America and I refuse to believe that they come to our country looking for a handout, rather than a hand up. As a case in point, I would refer you to the personal story of Senator Cruz’s father, Raphael, who came to this country from Cuba with only $100 sewed into his clothing. He took a job as a dishwasher and worked his way through college. Now he has a son who is a Harvard Law School graduate and a candidate for president of the United States. That is the American Dream that Hispanics seek and I will never be convinced otherwise.”
Interviewer: “You have been quoted as saying that you would not go to war with Russia over Ukraine, but that military action should not be taken off the table. Armed conflict with Russia could conceivably pose the threat of a nuclear exchange. If you believe that to be true, under what circumstances would you consider going to war with Russia?”
Dr. Carson: “Look. I don’t know of a single person in possession of his faculties who believes that the United States would ever launch a preemptive nuclear attack against another country. But every country with nuclear weapons must know that, if they were ever foolish enough to launch a preemptive strike against the United States, retribution would be swift and certain. In the United States, nuclear weapons are seen as a deterrent, not as tactical weapons.”
Now that Dr. Carson is officially a viable candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, he should always be aware that every response to reporters’ questions must contain three elements: 1) a brief clarification of the issue at hand, 2) a clear and concise statement of his position on the issue, and 3) a solid shot across the opposition’s bow. If the mainstream media insist on using Barack Obama as the standard by which Dr. Carson is to be judged, then the bar has been set very low. He should take full advantage of that weakness at every opportunity.
Paul R. Hollrah is a retired corporate government relations executive and a two-time Oklahoma elector in the U.S. Electoral College. He lives and writes among the hills and lakes of Green Country in northeastern Oklahoma.