A new pair of Bloomberg Politics focus groups help explain why Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and conservative author, has rocketed to become a top-tier GOP candidate in the presidential race.
Polls show with remarkable consistency that the soft-spoken Republican is No. 2 in the primary contest in almost every state and nationally.
But unlike the front-runner, Donald Trump, Carson does not attack his rivals or shout from the stage. Compared to most politicians, in fact, he speaks barely above a whisper.
And the political neophyte’s success has left some political observers baffled.
“I just don’t get it,” a GOP rival once told the Washington Examiner of Carson.
But the Bloomberg Politics focus groups of likely Republican voters — conducted by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in Iowa and New Hampshire on Monday — shed some light on the issue.
Asked to explain what Carson’s qualifications for the Oval Office were, the participants cited his intelligence, devout faith, authenticity, and measured approach to the campaign trail.
“Clearly one of the most intelligent people in the race right now,” one voter said.
“He has everything I’m looking for,” said another. “I think he treats the American people and the other candidates with respect.”
Carson has occasionally stumbled into controversy, such as when he said a Muslim shouldn’t be president. Critics ripped that comment as offensive and antithetical to the Constitution’s values, but the focus groups’ participants overwhelmingly agreed with Carson on the issue.
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