When we ran a poll Tuesday that offered a limited number of choices of GOP Presidential contenders for 2016, a lot of readers, especially on Facebook, rejected our offerings and “wrote in” the names of potential candidates we didn’t mention.
Yesterday’s poll was necessarily limited by the topic of the story it accompanied. But that didn’t stop people from coming forward with their own choices — and one of the names our Facebook commenters most frequently mentioned was that of Dr. Ben Carson.
If you’re among the many who’ve been hoping Carson’s name might gain significant political and popular traction as we inch closer to the 2016 primary season, you might be pleased to know you’re not stranded on an island. In fact, there’s a PAC for that.
The pro-Carson PAC, the “National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee,” formed in August of 2013. In the six months of fundraising since its beginnings, the PAC has amassed close to $3 million in what, so far, has been a very grass-roots effort.
In a release Tuesday, the PAC announced it had raised $2,837,401 on the strength of nearly 47,000 individual contributions, with an average donation amount of $45. That’s about as grass-roots as you can get, but the committee is optimistic about the relatively strong reaction Carson’s name has elicited — considering the group’s fundraising method is intentionally a small-scale inversion of the efforts employed by large PACs on behalf of establishment candidates.
Much of the fundraising has come in the form of individual donations via RunBenRun.org, the PAC’s campaign website. Building a tiny war chest, one voter at a time, is a method of incremental fundraising the committee’s not ashamed of, despite its relatively modest take through six months of Internet campaigning.
“The Committee’s fundraising efforts are outpacing similar efforts designed to draft other high-profile candidates into the 2016 presidential race,” the PAC boasted in its release. “A political action committee encouraging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to enter the race for the Democratic nomination raised approximately $1.3 million in its first six months of operation, and roughly $2.75 million in its second six-month span.”
That certainly gives some perspective to the Carson movement, but the biggest stumbling block to a Carson candidacy may be Carson himself. Although he has demonstrated a fearless will to speak with conviction without regard for whom he might offend — he famously blasted Obamacare at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, with President Barack Obama sitting right under his nose — Carson has explicitly distanced himself from the fundraising efforts that aim to put him in the 2016 primary field.
“I have not endorsed any of these organizations and have neither any professional nor personal relationships and am not in communication with any of them,” the former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon said late last year. “I have not authorized any solicitation of funds in my name or likeness.”
But Carson has also revealed a grudging openness to the idea of a Presidential run, should larger circumstances obligate him.
“If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would. It’s not my intention,” he told FOX News a year ago.
“Dr. Carson has said he will consider running for president if the American people are clamoring, and the tremendous outpouring of donations shows that the people are indeed clamoring,” said pro-Carson PAC campaign director Vernon Robinson in Tuesday’s press release. “Hundreds of thousands have signed the petition asking him to run, donated to the grassroots effort and volunteered their time to represent the Committee at events around the country…Grassroots conservatives are drawn to Dr. Carson because they know he is the only candidate capable of healing our land and uniting our country to overcome the crises created by recent administrations.”