When asked about his close second to Sen. Ted Cruz in a recent straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans about the next GOP presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson said it underscored how American was looking outside Washington, D.C., for answers.
"I take it as a sign that people are starting to wake up," said Carson, who appeared Friday for a book signing in Tyler.
Some agree with the rising Tea Party politician, as illustrated by the long line of people at his book signing at Sam's Club on Loop 323 in Tyler. His new book is "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future."
When asked about his much-speculated political aspirations, Carson said, "That is not something I desire to do, but … I will keep my eyes and ears open."
Carson has been increasingly active in right-wing politics since his National Prayer Breakfast speech on Feb. 7, 2013. Speculations about a possible presidential run have grown more common recently, particularly after his speech before the Conservative Political Action Committee on March 7, 2013. Despite his apparent rejection of a run for president, Carson spoke about his first activities upon election when asked.
"The first thing I would do would be to put an end to faith-based persecution," he said. "We come from a Judeo-Christian background, no matter what some may say. The second thing would be to fix the economy. Its state is responsible for a lot of our problems."
Despite the growing popularity of the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, nicknamed Run Ben Run, Carson remained noncommittal about his political future.
"My current aspiration is to travel," he said. "We are touring four or five states a week. People are waking up. … The key is to have a well-educated population. Knowledgeable voters could turn this mess around."
When asked his stance on the strength of lobbying groups in Washington and the influence of money on politics, Carson said, "If I enter the arena, I will not be a politician. There is only one special interest group: the American people."
This is the message of "One Nation."
"The greatest challenge America faces is believing we are each other's enemies," he said. "We are one nation. The real enemies are those that seek to divide us, that are like wedges in every crack — things like race, wealth and so on. The media diverts the conversation from the essential problems."
Carson said the answer to the country's problems lie with the American people, not Washington.
"It all depends on a well-informed population," he said. "The key is the people. You can't just go along to get along. If every person would spend just half of an hour every day learning something new — like algebra or geometry, history, economics — they would become completely different as a person. That's the key to exist as a free nation. We need sophisticated citizens as in the past."
In keeping with his career in medicine, his message focuses on healing.
"We need to make people believe in the system again," Carson said. "There are those that want a fundamental change in America, but that's not right."
Carson first gained prominence through his views on the Affordable Care Act, legislation that he feels his distinguished medical career gives him a unique position to speak on.
"I am not for making the Affordable Care Act more workable. I am for getting rid of it," Carson said. "It transferred from the people to the government the most important thing there is — their health and health care. Instead, I believe the key factor is health savings accounts. … I think each citizen should get one the day he is born, which is accumulative. Most people won't use it until their adulthood, so the savings will be a good alternative. Each person becomes his own health care company, with no middle man. This won't interfere with catastrophic insurance and would probably lower the cost actually. This is the way to introduce the medical system to the free market. I absolutely believe this is a realistic goal. People will want this system when they see what it can do for them."
Although health care is a central issue to him, Carson said his overall message is about freedom.
"This is our nation," he said. "The government works for us, and my book details actions, steps, both individual and collective, that we can take to not only reach the problem but take steps to correct it that will work for everyone.