Ben Carson announces retirement, feeds presidential speculation

March 16, 2013

Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon, poses for a portrait at Johns Hopkins Hospital on January 24, 2012 in Baltimore, Md. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Ben Carson, an emerging star in the conservative movement since his National Prayer Breakfast speech last month, fed into increasing speculation Saturday that he could run for president.

Carson announced at the Conservative Political Action Conference that he would retire from his medical practice in the coming months and then suggested something else was on the horizon.

"I want to quit while I'm at the top of my game, and there are so many more things that could be done," the 61-year old said as the crowd rose to its feet.

That was the second time during his appearance on stage that Carson toyed with the speculation. Hypothesizing about a president who wants to destroy the country, Carson used himself as the antagonist.

"Let’s say you magically put me in the White House," he said. The crowd rose and gave him another ovation.

The Johns Hopkins director of pediatric neurosurgery has been a mainstay in conservative media since last month's prayer breakfast, in which he criticized President Obama with Obama sitting just a few yards away.

Carson said in his speech Saturday that the appearance earned him racially tinged e-mails from supporters of the president who said: "How dare you insult my president? You are an n-word.”

At the conclusion of his hypothetical, he suggested that Obama is, in fact, the president doing nearly everything imaginable to destroy the country.

"It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now," he said.

Carson has also been talked up as a potential candidate for some other office in his home state, Maryland. But the state remains very Democratic.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · March 16, 2013