Carson’s voice mail greeting, which has been growing in 20-second increments for almost two decades, reflects the many identities that he has added through the years. The list includes world renowned neurosurgeon, author, speaker, inner-city folk hero, role model to evangelical Christians and, most recently, rising conservative political star.
His latest brush with fame followed the prayer breakfast speech in which he criticized the president’s health-care overhaul, called for a flat tax and warned that the enforcers of political correctness had put a dangerous “muzzle” on debate in the country. To the delight of conservatives, Carson delivered the address with a stone-faced President Obama sitting a few yards away.
Within days of his remarks, Carson was being touted as a possible presidential candidate by the Wall Street Journal. He got one of the most enthusiastic receptions at the recently held Conservative Political Action Conference, where he stoked speculation that he may, just may, be willing to run for president.
After a several-day onslaught from fans and the media, many wanting to know his potential political plans, Carson has eased away from suggestions he may have his eyes on the White House. The 61-year-old doctor now says the likelihood of a presidential run is “incredibly small.” What he really wants is a second career in television when he retires from Johns Hopkins later this year.
“Maybe if you write about it in your article, somebody will say, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” he said in an interview.
For now, his small office staff is struggling to manage the crush of attention from smitten conservatives and find time for his brain surgery patients between his sit-downs with the national media.
“Here you go Mister Hollywood,” joked Carol James, Carson’s physician assistant for the last 31 years.
She dropped off the latest unsolicited offering. It was a box of buttons bearing the letters “P.C.,” crossed out with a red slash, and a note from a supporter in Gulf Breeze, Fla.
“When you spoke on national television,” the fan wrote, “I knew I must send you these buttons.”
‘Treading new ground’
Carson relays his personal story these days with the practiced confidence of someone who has been telling and retelling it for decades. Each of his anecdotes has been honed to make a specific point aboutthe importance of religious faith, self-reliance and education.