- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2014

DENVER — Wherever Dr. Ben Carson goes, so does the grassroots army that’s trying to recruit him to run for president.

Dr. Carson was a featured speaker Friday at the Western Conservative Summit, which prompted a platoon of local volunteers from the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee to shift into mobilization mode.

There was a double booth in the vendor area of the Denver Hyatt Regency festooned with “Run, Ben, Run” posters. There were “Ben Carson for President” hats, buttons, T-shirts and bumper stickers. There were petitions urging Dr. Carson to seek the presidency in 2016.

“We’re getting a lot of response,” said Art Dubus, an aircraft mechanic from Federal Heights, Colorado, who spent the weekend working the booth. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm for him here.”

A retired neurosurgeon who now writes a column for The Washington Times, Dr. Carson hasn’t announced whether he’s running, but he told Newsmax in January that he would consider it if there were “a lot of people clamoring for me to do that.”

The clamor may soon become impossible to ignore. Last week, the committee stunned politicos by announcing that it had raised $3.3 million in the second fundraising quarter, bringing the total to $7.2 million from about 95,000 donors.

The group is also delivering petitions to Dr. Carson with about 6,000 signatures every week, according to the committee’s July 15 press release.

Mr. Dubus said he became a Carson fan after seeing him speak on Fox News and then reading his book, “America the Beautiful.”

Why? “He’s honest. He’s very sincere. He’s a staunch conservative. He’s got common sense,” said Mr. Dubus, who heads the Adams County committee. “He’s a team builder. He’s a devout Christian.”

There were chants of “run, Ben, run” after Dr. Carson spoke at the three-day summit’s kick-off at the Colorado Convention Center, where he warned of dire consequences if progressives continue to control the political and cultural agenda.

“Our country is in critical condition right now. And if we don’t do something about it in the relatively near future, it’s going to be over,” said Dr. Carson. “If we get another progressive president in place and they get a chance to appoint three more Supreme Court justices, that’s the end of the United States as we know it. So this is the most serious situation we’ve had in a long time.”

He urged conservatives to work together instead of allowing minor policies differences to divide them.

“Some people are not going to like what I’m about to say, but after the primaries are over, if your candidate didn’t win, don’t take your marbles and go home,” Dr. Carson said. “They may not agree with you on everything, but it is much better to work with somebody who agrees with you 90 percent of the time than someone who disagrees with you 100 percent of the time.”

After his speech, hundreds waited in line for signed copies of his latest book, “One Nation.”

Lyle Thomas, the Colorado state coordinator for the draft-Carson effort, said support for a Carson candidacy is building. The committee is planning a statewide meeting in August expected to draw more than 400 volunteers.

“Colorado is more organized on this than any other state in the union,” said Mr. Thomas. “We’re going to be putting Dr. Ben on the ballot in Colorado.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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