CONCORD, N.H. -- Ben Carson strolled through the state house in Concord with a crowd of cheering supporters Friday, becoming the last major presidential candidate to officially file for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.
Carson entered Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office to a crush of “Go Ben Go!” chants and camera flashes, then handed in his paperwork and the $1,000 filing fee. Every candidate who files for the primary writes a message on a “Notice to Voters” sheet, and Carson jotted down his campaign slogan, “Heal. Inspire. Revive.”
After finishing the official filing ritual, Carson sat down with the New Hampshire press corps and was asked about his thoughts on Donald Trump’s assertion about a database in the United States to track Muslims. Carson indicated that he favors records for everyone in the country, but that people shouldn’t be treated differently based on their religion or any other factor.
“I think we should have a database on everybody who comes into this country,” he said. “Hopefully we already have a database on every citizen who's already here. If we don't we're doing a very poor job.”
“I don't think it's a good idea to treat anybody differently,” Carson continued. “You know, one of the hallmarks of America is that we treat everybody the same… If we're just gonna pick out a particular group of people based on their religion, based on their race, based on some other thing, that's setting a pretty dangerous precedent.”
When asked, Carson did say he would favor more scrutiny of mosques if there was evidence of any kind of “radicalizing” activity.
Carson also defended his comment from earlier this week that seemed to liken the concern about Syrian refugees to a fear of rapid dogs, blaming the harsh reaction to the comments on a negative media narrative.
“What I actually said is if you had a kid and you knew there was a rabid dog outside you probably even though you love dogs would bring that kid in, call the humane society, make sure that dog is off the street before you sent your kid out there,” Carson said. “The point being there are people who are radical jihadists and they want to destroy us.”
Friday was the last day of the filing period in New Hampshire, and any candidate who wished to submit their paperwork on the final day was required to do so in person. Every major candidate still in the race filed for the primary in person except for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Carson has not spent nearly as much time campaigning around the cities and towns of New Hampshire as some of his Republican rivals have, yet he is sitting high in third place in the state’s latest Real Clear Politics average.
He defended his absence as an issue of logistics and the way things fit into his schedule, but this was another very brief New Hampshire trip for Carson. He did not hold any bigger campaign events in the state, but his staff did notify reporters that he would be stopping at a local Burger King to eat after filing before departing again for Iowa.
Carson told reporters that he doubts people in New Hampshire are making up their mind about who to vote for by going through a tally sheet and looking at how often a candidate came through their area. “I think the American people are actually smarter than that,” he said.