- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

EXETER, N.H. — Vowing to crack down on the free-spending ways of Washington, Ben Carson signed a “no new tax” pledge here Tuesday as part a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.

Buoyed by solid fundraising and strong poll numbers, Mr. Carson is working to broaden his appeal beyond the grassroots activists that helped to compel the retired neurosurgeon to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

“The tax pledge is the least I can do,” Mr. Carson told The Washington Times. “I would go much further than saying I am not going to raise taxes. I think we need to reform the system completely — make it truly fair, with liberty and justice for everybody.”

Mr. Carson called for a “proportional tax” of somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent on individual and corporate income, and for the elimination of all tax deductions, including the cherished mortgage-interest and charity-donation deductions.

The 63-year-old also came out against “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts on immigration, following the slaying of a San Francisco woman, with which an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times has been charged.

Voters in the early primary states are being pulled in various directions because of the sheer size of the GOP field.

That was a clear reminder of that Tuesday after Mr. Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina crossed paths on the streets of downtown Portsmouth. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana also traveled through the state on Tuesday.

Polls show Mr. Carson, who has never held political office, is running third nationally behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. He is tied for second in Iowa, which kicks off the nomination race, and is running in the middle of the pack in New Hampshire.

The Carson campaign announced earlier this month that it had pulled in $8.3 million in its opening quarter and more than $10 million since he launched his exploratory committee in early March.

“We have easily what we need to run our campaign,” Mr. Carson said. “The pundits early on said it would be impossible for us to mount a national campaign since we weren’t connected to the big money and we are doing just fine because they forgot about one very important thing — the people.”

Mr. Carson and his wife, Candy, celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary in nearby Nashua on Monday and followed that up Tuesday with five separate stops across the state.

Mr. Carson cast himself as an Washington outsider and drove home the idea that he is taking the same fact-based approach to policy as he did in the operating room, where he became renowned for separating conjoined twins.

“There are a lot of people who have been in Washington for decades,” he said “I don’t think you would really want them to tie your shoe.”

Mr. Carson said he opposed Obamacare, and said that he would push for health savings accounts, as well as the ability for people to purchase insurance across state lines.

Asked about Social Security, he advocated for gradually raising the retirement age over time and said that he would offer a tax credit in exchange for people choosing to opt out of the program.

On immigration, he said he would seal the border and provide guest-worker permits to illegal immigrants, as long as the paid back taxes.

He said Congress should pass laws protecting religious freedom in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Ginny Hooker, 60, of Pittsfield, said she is open to voting for Mr. Carson.

“I would consider. It is still too early, but I think he will do well,” Ms. Hooker said, adding that she likes how he comes across as a genuine person. “People can relate to him. He feels like he is someone who is easy to approach.”

Barry Heller, 66, of Merrimack, said Mr. Carson has good ideas, but comes off flat on the stump.

“His biggest shortcoming is he is not as dynamic a speaker as a lot of the others,” Mr. Heller said. “He needs to be a better speaker to get the message across.”

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