But Carson finished a distant third in the 2014 CPAC straw poll, picked by 9 percent of the conservative poll respondents, with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul gaining the bulk of the votes at 31 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 11 percent. Paul increased his margin since last year’s CPAC poll, when he received 25 percent of the votes.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in fourth place with 8 percent of the vote.
During a speech that was enthusiastically received by the CPAC crowd, Carson attacked the Obama administration and vowed to take on his liberal and media critics.
“I will continue to defy the PC [political correctness] police who have tried, in many cases, to shut me up! I actually find them pretty amusing,” Carson said.
Carson claimed that several recent comments he made that have been roundly lashed, such as his declaration that the Affordable Care Act was the worst thing since slavery, have been taken out of context and skewed by the left to score political points against him.
“[They] repeat these lies over and over again because they cannot argue the actual facts,” Carson said.
However, Carson did have a chance to further explain his slavery comment when he appeared on Roland Martin’s radio show last October, and he did not back down or change the meaning of his statement.
Noting that atrocities like Jim Crow arose after slavery, Martin asked him, “Did you go too far?”
“That’s my opinion,” Carson responded. “First of all, I recognize that slavery was a horrible thing … I realize how horrible it was … I didn’t say this is as bad as slavery, I said this is the worst thing since slavery.”
“Which includes Jim Crow,” Martin interrupted.
“Yes, absolutely,” the neurosurgeon and author said. “This nation was founded on the principle that it would be a new type of nation, that was for, of, and by the people. A constitution was put in place that would assure that the people remain at the pinnacle of power and that the central government would never reach the point where it had control of the people. [Obamacare] fundamentally changes the relationship.”
Carson told The Hill during the CPAC conference that he does not have any desire to run for president, but that he will “listen” to calls for him to enter the race.
“If the circumstances were to evolve in such a way that that seemed to be what God was calling me to do, I would certainly do it,” Carson told The Hill. “And I would never turn my back on my fellow citizens, if there was a hue and cry for such.”
Carson became a darling of the conservative movement when he used a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast a year ago to bash Obamacare — with the president sitting a few feet away from him.
“Moral decay, fiscal irresponsibility, they destroyed themselves. And if you don’t think that can happen to America, you get out your books and you start reading,” Carson said, as Obama listened.
Carson said at the CPAC conference that conservatives need to vote out members of Congress who continue to favor increasing the debt ceiling—but later he urged the crowd to support moderate Republicans.
“The ship is about to sail off of Niagara Falls and we’re all going to die, but we’ve got a bunch of people looking over of the side of the ship and they say: there are barnacles on the ship, we have to get the barnacles off.” Carson said. “We’ve got to get the ship turned around first.