The Washington Times - February 15, 2013, 11:29AM

Here come the “Ben Carson for President” t-shirts. And campaign websites. And speculation.

The warm glow of public appeal for Dr. Carson is growing after his recent provocative speech at the National Prayer Breakfast before an audience that included President Obama. The pediatric neurosurgeon cut a fearless, straightforward path through health care, taxes and American woes, prompting The Wall Street Journal to run an immediate op-ed titled “Ben Carson for President,” declaring that Dr. Carson “may not be politically correct, but he’s closer to correct than we’ve heard in years.”

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Many agree, and have acted on the sentiment.

Internet domains have been filed with Register.com, the official depository of new websites, including BenCarson2016.com and Bencarsonforpresident.com, among others.

“Dr. Ben Carson for President” and other fan sites on Facebook now cater to some 57,000 admirers, who wonder if their hero would be known as “Dr. President” or “Mr. President” in proper protocols.

They applaud “Gifted Hands,” the 2009 movie inspired by Dr. Carson’s life story starring Cuba Gooding. Jr. They laud the Carson Scholars Fund, which the doctor and his wife, Candy, founded to ease “the education crisis in the U.S.,” awarding more than $5.2 million in scholarships to the young and studious.

Meanwhile, another cultural indicator suggests that indeed, there’s some Carsonmania stirring in the citizenry: merchandise. As in “Ben Carson for President” merchandise, emerging at such online purveyors as CafePress.com.

“In previous elections, the sales of merchandise like T-shirts or bumperstickers proved a solid barometer in gauging voter interest. Though it’s early, we’re already seeing intriguing indicators for 2016,” communication director Marc Cowlin tells The Water Cooler.

“As for Dr. Carson, we have four designs active for him right now. It’s not overwhelming yet, but it’s there. As for current headliners, the breakaway favorites are Hillary Clinton for Democrats, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for Republicans,” Mr. Cowlin adds.