The Big House could meet the White House again in 2016.
Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and graduate of the University’s Medical School, is considering a run for president in 2016.
Last week, Carson announced the formation of an exploratory committee that will weigh the potential of a campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination.
A neurosurgeon with no previous experience in elected office, for most of his career Carson was better known for his contributions to medicine than his politics. He only appeared on the national political stage in 2013 after delivering a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast that received praise from many conservatives.
Carson, who was born in Detroit, enrolled at the University after completing his undergraduate education at Yale University. He graduated from the University in 1977 and spent his career practicing pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.
Carson became the first surgeon to separate twins conjoined at the head. He went on to perform the surgery several times and develop a method to remove deeply embedded brain tumors, before retiring from medicine in 2013.
After Carson’s 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, prominent Republican John Philip Sousa IV created the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee dedicated to helping Carson gain a nomination for the 2016 presidential election. The committee’s catchphrase is “Run, Ben, Run.”
In the lecture, Carson encouraged future physicians to branch out into the political sphere, emphasizing that doctors are the best people to talk about health care policies, as they deal with these programs and regulations every day.
During a speech at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Carson outlined several broad platform ideas, including welfare reform and the replacement of the Affordable Care Act with a health saving accounts system.
With health saving accounts, individuals can contribute a specific amount of money per year towards healthcare expenses that is not subject to federal income tax. Individuals, not the government or a corporation, own the accounts. They are currently only available to those who have health care plans with high deductibles.
“It is not affordable,” Carson said of the ACA. “And it is absolutely about redistribution and control. If we really wanted to use our intellect, we would come up with something that works for everybody.”
Last week, Carson attracted widespread media attention for comments during a CNN interview in which he said homosexuality is a choice, citing that people “go into prison straight, and when they come out, they‘re gay.”
He later apologized for the remarks, but said he would not address gay rights issues for the duration of his presidential campaign.
Contact information for a Carson spokesperson was not immediately available.
Aaron Kall, director of the University’s debate team and an expert in election politics, said Carson probably did not get involved in politics while at the University because he came for graduate school.
“I think that his time at Michigan, just being a medical student, and all of the rigorous amount of time and everything, I don’t know how much time he had to dabble into politics while in graduate school,” Kall said.
In the two years that have passed since he spoke at the University, Carson has advanced from a name thrown around when talking about the 2016 presidential election to a serious contender.
“(Carson is) not a frontrunner in the GOP, but certainly a candidate, a legitimate candidate,” Kall said.
This year’s CPAC straw poll placed Carson fourth among likely Republican candidates, pulling 11.4 percent of the vote. He placed behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Even so, Kall said he has doubts about Carson’s ability to gain the nomination.
“He got about just over 10 percent of the vote, showing that he’s a legitimate candidate in 2016,” Kall said. “But I don’t think that he would be considered one of the very top most formidable favorites.”