Note: This is the fourth review of Presidential announcement speeches. I plan to summarize review all of the speeches for the Republican candidates for President.
Dr. Ben Carson burst on the American political scene with his message at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 7, 2013. Before that message, he was a well known neurosurgeon, famous for a miraculous operation separating twins conjoined at the back of their heads.
After the prayer breakfast, his message went viral. Within days, people across the nation were urging him to run for President.
His announcement was at Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, last Monday, May 4. The entire program lasted a little over an hour. It included an honor guard, special music, and an introductory video about Ben Carson. His speech was approximately 30 minutes.
Carson did not use notes in his announcement speech. His style of delivery was conversational, much like a TED talk. He rarely raised his voice but his words were powerful.
He announced his candidacy with, “I’m Ben Carson and I’m a candidate for President of the United States.” His message focused on two main themes – the greatness of America and the the economy.
Carson began by saying that America is a place of dreams. He observed that a lot of people are down on our nation and want to point out the bad things. Then he asked,
“Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of people trying to get in here and not a lot of people trying to escape?”
He spoke of his mother and her dreams of education. She never got beyond the 3rd grade and married at the age of 13, wanting to get away from a desperate situation. She and her husband moved from Tennessee to Detroit and started their family. Later she learned that her husband was a bigamist and they were divorced.
Growing up he faced more than just poverty. He told of violence and gangs, rats and roaches. Two of his cousins were killed and he also told of the local drug dealer who was killed.
His mother worked several jobs and he said that she did not want to get on welfare because,
“she noticed that most of the people she saw go on welfare never came off of it. She did not want to be dependent. She wanted us to be independent.”
Out of that background, he moved into addressing how big government programs harm the American dream. In a line that got strong applause he said that the notion that he wants to get rid of a safety net was a blatant lie. He explained,
“I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people.”
He told how his mother prayed for wisdom and made her boys read books and write book reports to give to her even though she could not read them. He identified the characteristics of a “can do” attitude that made America great. He also emphasized the importance of speaking up. Referring to Rules for Radicals, he said,
“I will tell you something. They don’t care if you don’t believe what they believe, as long as you keep your mouth shut. That is what we have to start doing. We have to start opening our mouth’s for the values and principles of America.”
He spent some time focusing on the fact that he is not politically correct and is not a politician and never wants to be a politician. He moved into the topic of the economy and showed that he had a strong grasp of the nation’s economy.
Carson pointed out that a 5.5 percent unemployment rate does not paint an accurate picture. The true picture, he said, is found in the labor force participation rate which has steadily declined since 2009.
“Unless you understand those things, it is possible for slick politicians and biased media to convince you that everything is wonderful when your eyes tell you something different.”
The national debt is18 trillion. He put that into an understandable perspective saying that if we repaid it at the rate of 10 million dollars per day, it would take 5,000 years to pay it back.
He called for a reduction in the corporate tax rate. He also called for a tax holiday on the 2 trillion dollars held by US companies in other countries. He said that the reason that money is not brought back to the US is because it would be taxed at 35% if it came back.
During his message, Carson had what I call a Rick Perry moment when he was about to introduce his campaign team. He stumbled for a moment trying to come up with their names and asked, “Who do we have?” He did it in a light hearted manner and brought each member of his team on the stage with him.
In closing he addressed the lack of political experience issue. He contrasted political experience resulting in bloated budgets to his experience in solving real and complex problems. He closed with a simple description of what the nation needs.
The real pedigree that we need to help to heal this country, to revive this country. Someone who believes in our constitution and is willing to put it on the top shelf. Someone who believes in their fellow man and loves this nation and is compassionate. Somebody who believes in what we have learned since we were in kindergarten. That is, that we are one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.
Ben Carson has a simple style of communicating that is disarming. He comes across as a man who has an inner strength shaped and molded through his experiences and his faith.
Other than spending some time on economics he did not get into the nitty gritty of policy details. He clearly believes in the American dream and in the American people.
Common Sense from DC (Not Washington)
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