In an interview with The Daily Caller on Friday, a close friend and adviser to Ben Carson said he believes it is likely the neurosurgeon will run as a Republican for president in 2016.
“I think he’s very, very serious,” said Terry Giles, who recently agreed to serve as chairman of the campaign if Carson pulls the trigger on a run. “If it were on the big board in Vegas, I’d probably be betting in favor of the fact he’s going to run.”
Carson — the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital — has acknowledged that he is considering a White House campaign. The author and public speaker has been increasingly mentioned as a possible candidate, following a burst of attention last year for famously arguing a conservative message at the National Prayer Breakfast as President Obama sat just a few feet away.
“I am in the process of arranging my life so that if Ben wants me to be involved in the campaign, I could take the time off for how ever long that is from all my other businesses and activities in order to do that,” Giles said. “I don’t think he would ask me to do that if he wasn’t serious.”
Giles, a businessman from Texas who has known Carson for 20 years, told TheDC he doesn’t expect Carson to make up his mind for another “six, seven or eight months.”
“I’m really there to help Ben in whatever way I can,” Giles said. “Right now, he’s indicated that if he runs, he’d like me to chair the campaign. It will be my intent all along to make sure that we build a team that can help Ben win. There’s not another reason to put him and his family in the crosshairs of the political world if we’re not there to win.”
Giles met Carson in 1994 when both were inducted in the Horatio Alger Association together. (Carson featured Giles as one of the four life stories he tells in his 2000 book “The Big Picture.”)
“We got close over the years,” Giles said. “I know Ben to be a thoughtful, compulsive truth teller. He is the smartest guy in almost any room he’s in. You can count on him being the smartest guy there.”
“He’s tough minded, so you can’t confuse his kindness with not being tough, but he has a kind heart,” Giles continued. “That probably comes from being a healer his whole life. And he’s soft-spoken. And he’s thoughtful. And he cares about people. And I really believe he cares about America.”
Giles acknowledges that neither he nor Carson have political backgrounds, and would need to bring on board people with campaign experience if Carson decides to run for president.
“He’s aware of the fact I don’t have a political background,” he said. “I’ve been assured we’d be bringing on the seasoned political experts to assist and obviously we’d have to fill out the campaign with a number of other folks that would help us to build the kind of team we want to build.”
Carson recently released a new book, and has been using his book tour to gauge whether Americans want someone like him to run, Giles said.
“Ben is well aware, of course, that he’d be the one person in there with truly no political history,” Giles said. “And I think he’s trying to judge the pulse of the country. Are they ready for that? Are we finally ready to get somebody in there who can actually get the job done? That hasn’t lived their entire life on some government payroll? Is American really ready for that? Are we finally ready for that? That’s one of the things he’s looking at as well.”
Asked what factors Carson will weigh, Giles mentioned the midterm elections in November.
“I think that’s an important element,” he said. “Whether Republicans take back the Senate or do they not, and how do those elections go.”
Giles also mentioned family considerations.
“I think he is in deep conversations with his family, because this not only puts him in the spotlight, as you know, but it puts them in the spotlight as well,” Giles said. “They’ve always had a close family, and I think he wants to make sure that everyone in his family is in alignment with what he’s going to do.”
Carson, he said, is also curious about what a possible campaign would look like. “Who are the folks who are going to align with him and be his team?” Giles said.
Asked about fundraising, Giles replied: “I don’t think money will be a problem.”
“I had a chance to meet with a number of businessmen from around the country, men and women, who are Republicans that have felt the way I felt over the last few years,” he said. “And there’s a lot of enthusiasm. And a lot of people that are willing to contribute that have, over the last few years, just decided contributing to politics is just a tremendous waste of time. Because we just end up with the same empty promises and the same problems. If Ben decides to run, I don’t think money will be an issue.”
“Having talked about the issues with Ben, I believe that he will distinguish himself from the other Republican candidates pretty dramatically,” Giles said. “I also believe that we can build a coalition that the Republican Party needs to build in order to win a national election. And I honestly believe Ben is the only one who can do that out of the potential candidates on the Republican side.”
Giles took aim at the “far-right,” saying Carson’s tone in a campaign would be softer than other Republicans.
“The Republicans, for some period of time, and I’m a registered Republican, have taken positions to the far-right that is quite honestly mean-spirited,” Giles said. “And I am anxious, if Ben decides to run, to get involved in the campaign that will take a different approach. We both see that the key issues in this campaign are fiscal policy, foreign policy, immigration and health care. Those are the issues that matter. And those are the issues we really want to take on.”
Added Giles: “Fiscal conservatism and the freedom of the individual. If Ben decides to run, those are going to be the hallmarks of our campaign.”
Giles said Carson is determined to run a different sort of presidential campaign. “We’re going to deal with the issues,” he said. “I know everybody says that, but very few people do it.”
He also argued that Carson would be different from other Republicans who run.
“If he decides to run, I believe he has the greatest likelihood of winning in a general election,” Giles said. “The other Republican candidates are no different than what we’ve had the last several election cycles.”
Carson, he said, “like everything else he does” is being “very thoughtful in this process.”
“Today, I think he’s closer to making a positive decision on running than he has been in the past,” Carson’s friend said.