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Ben Carson ‘Surprised’ at Early Success of 2016 Run

Despite Controversial Comments, Ben Carson Surging in Polls 1:58

Ben Carson said he is “surprised” how quickly he has risen in the polls and defended his recent controversial comments about guns and the Holocaust in an interview on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Friday.

“I’m surprised that it has occurred this quickly. I thought it would take longer,” Carson said of his status as a top-tier Republican presidential candidate. “But, to me, that’s a tribute to the intelligence of the American people.”

Carson is five points behind frontrunner Donald Trump in Iowa, according to the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. His support in the Hawkeye State has skyrocketed since the end of summer.

The former neurosurgeon made headlines after last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, encouraging people to attack active shooters and suggesting the Holocaust could have been prevented if Jews were armed.

“Not only the Jews, but the entire populace,” Carson explained to Mitchell. “This is a general pattern that you see before tyranny occurs. There are many countries where that has occurred where they disarm the populace before they impose their tyrannical rule.”

As for Trump, Carson said he would consider serving as his vice president, but would have to decide “whether that was really the best use of my time and my influence.”

Carson also weighed in on the House speaker's race, saying he could support Paul Ryan.

“But the question is, you know, what do the other representatives think about him and, you know, hopefully he will decide that he wants to do this and will present, you know, his philosophy of leadership along with others and they can make an intelligent decision,” Carson said.