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Former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson urged Americans to “use your brain” when he formally launched his presidential campaign in Detroit on Monday.
“Stop being loyal to a party or to a man and use your brain to think for yourself,” he told supporters.
Carson, whose 29 years as a pediatric neurosurgeon earned him national acclaim, announced his presidential bid in his hometown where he was raised in poverty by a single mother. He used his biography to illustrate his belief that individual hard work, not help from the government, is the key to success.
“We’ve gone far beyond what our Constitution describes and we’ve begun to just allow it to expand based on what the political class wants because they want to increase their power and their dominion over the people,” Carson said. “And I think it’s time for the people to rise up and take the government back.”
The 63-year-old gained notoriety among tea party conservatives in 2013 when he lambasted President Barack Obama’s healthcare law at the National Prayer Breakfast while the president sat just a few feet away. More recently, the outspoken Republican had to apologize for saying homosexuality is a choice because people "go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they're gay."
“I’m not politically correct and I’m probably never going to be politically correct because I'm not a politician, I don't want to be a politician,” Carson said. “Politicians do what is politically expedient and I want to do what’s right.”
Carson told supporters his campaign would be unique from anything the country has seen before, and his announcement at the Detroit Music Hall seemed to reflect that. A choir sang Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” before Carson came out and delivered his remarks while pacing back and forth on the stage.
Carson becomes the first African-American to join an already diverse GOP presidential field. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are vying to become the country’s first Hispanic president, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO declared Monday that she is running to become the first female president.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 41 percent of GOP primary voters said they could see themselves supporting Carson, while 18 percent said they do not imagine supporting him.
-- Andrew Rafferty