Dr. Ben Carson says the "likelihood is strong" that he will run for president in 2016, and the attendees of the Values Voters summit this week seem to think he would make a great vice president. On the fundraising front, the National Draft Ben Carson Committee is raising millions on the mere prospect of Carson running. Clearly, there is plenty of interest in the former Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon.
But Carson has something of a Barack Obama problem, which has nothing to do with the fact that he would be vying to become the nation's second black president.
That problem became clear as Carson ran into a buzzsaw in the form of Chris Wallace during an interview on "Fox News Sunday." Wallace asked Carson why his party or the country would bet on sending a neurosurgeon with no political experience to the White House to deal with domestic and foreign affairs -- especially after President Obama's rocky tenure.
"Wouldn't putting Ben Carson in the Oval Office be akin to putting a politician in the operating room and performing one of your brain surgeries?" Wallace said.
Carson's response (emphasis ours):
I don't think so. What is required for leadership is wisdom and the ability to assemble a appropriate team, an ability to listen and an ability to make wise decisions. And we also have to recognize what I said a little bit earlier: Our system was designed by our founders, with the people in mind and with the will of the people in mind, not with the will of government. If you want the will of the government, yes, you need people who spend their whole lives in politics, and they are people who are much more likely to be able to impose the will of the government. But I don't think that's what we need and Jefferson said that when things got so bad, the people would actually make a correction. I think it's time to make that correction."
This is about as solid an answer as Carson could give, but it also raises a very pertinent issue for Carson and many top-flight 2016 GOP hopefuls whose records, like Obama's, are a little one-dimensional. Like Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) would likely run as 'ideas' candidates -- campaigns based on their vision for the future not their resume in the past. But, none of them has served more than four years in federal office -- the precise amount of national experience Obama had when he was inaugurated as president.
For Carson, that issue is particularly acute. Carson is right to talk about the 2016 campaign as a "course correction," as most presidential campaigns that don't include an incumbent president are about just that -- particularly when you are running for the nomination of the party that doesn't currently control the White House. But, after taking a chance on someone with little national experience in Obama, will Americans -- and especially Republicans -- be willing to extend someone like Carson the benefit of the doubt?