By Zachary Toillion
Since the start of the Republican presidential primary, the contest has remained fluid with many figures rising to prominence in the polls. Donald Trump maintains a lead in polling that has been sustained since early July, both nationally and in early states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
While Trump has clung to the lead, the second place spot has been held by former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker. Other candidates, including former CEO of Hewlett Packard Carly Fiorina, have seen bumps in the polls.
The latest to experience a surge is Dr. Ben Carson, famed retired neurosurgeon from Maryland. Carson rose to prominence as the main surgeon in the first successful separation of conjoined twins in 1987, a medical feat that took 22 hours. Since then, Carson received numerous awards, including 30 honorary doctorates and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. Carson’s biography, “Gifted Hands,” was even adapted into a made-for-TV film in 2009.
Carson gained prominence in conservative circles after delivering a blistering critique of the Affordable Care Act at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Carson received nationwide coverage over controversial remarks he made stating the Affordable Care Act was “The worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Carson has staked out conservative positions while also expressing support for programs that have tripped up some of his rivals in the primary, including support for a guest worker program for immigrants who entered the country illegally. Carson has sought to shore up conservative support by stressing that he is pro-life, has spoken out against same sex marriage and argues for a national flat tax.
Carson is at nearly 20 percent in Iowa, just behind Donald Trump. Nationally, he is a distant second to Trump, but leads third place finisher Jeb Bush by around 3–4 percent in recent national polling.