Dr. Ben Carson, the WND columnist and retired neurosurgeon, formally launched his campaign in his hometown of Detroit on Monday.
“I’m Ben Carson, and I’m a candidate for president of the United States,” he told a crowd of supporters on Monday, making his presidential bid official to wild applause.
Carson introduced his wife and family and called for “the people to rise up and take the government back.”
“I’m probably never going to be politically correct because I’m not a politician,” he said. “I don’t want to be a politician. Because politicians do what is politically expedient — I want to do what’s right.”
The celebratory tone of the day was shrouded in private sadness for the candidate. His campaign confirmed earlier Monday that Carson’s mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, was growing progressively weaker, and he planned to delay his planned trip to Iowa to head to Dallas on Monday to say goodbye.
Carson tipped his hand a day earlier, when he told a Florida TV station that he will officially join the 2016 Republican presidential race on Monday.
“I’m willing to be part of the equation and, therefore, I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States of America,” Carson said.
His presidential campaign marks Carson’s first run for office.
Carson burst onto the political scene in 2013, following a fiery speech at the National Prayer Breakfast where he spoke about the dangers of political correctness and criticized President Obama’s health-care law, while a grim-faced Obama stared at him from just a few feet away on the same stage.
At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, he said Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
Despite Carson’s short time on the national political stage, he has a long and storied legacy in medicine.
After growing up in poverty in Detroit, he went on to graduate from Yale and the University of Michigan’s Medical School. He later became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore at the age of 33, the youngest physician to helm a major division there.
In 1987 he became the first surgeon to perform a successful operation to separate twins conjoined at the head. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2008 by President George W. Bush. The next year, he was portrayed in a TV movie about his life by Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.
Carson is the first black candidate to enter the growing Republican field for the party’s presidential nomination next year.
Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky have already entered the Republican presidential race.
Carson enters the race as a long shot to capture the GOP nomination, he currently polls ahead of several more established Republican contenders in Iowa, site of the first caucus, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the winner there in 2012. A polling composite from Real Clear Politics has Carson in fifth place in Iowa behind Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Paul.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina declared her candidacy in an online announcement on Monday. Huckabee will make an announcement on Tuesday about his plans. He also ran for the nomination in 2008.