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Ben Carson Pivots His Attention to Black Voters, But Are His Racial Politics Too Conservative to Woo Them?

Carson speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MarylandDr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who is currently running in second place in the GOP primary, has urged Black people to leave the Democratic Party. Carson says Democratic policies have failed them and they need to embrace the conservatism of the Republican Party. However, recent trips to Ferguson, Mo. and Harlem showed that Carson’s message may be falling on deaf ears. According to The Guardian, Harlem residents were skeptical of his message.

Harlem resident Myrna Coombs said she wouldn’t vote for Carson because she was a Democrat through and through.

“He’s in the wrong party. I like Bernie,” she said, referring to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Yvonne Boyd, who was selling CDs on Malcolm X Boulevard, was more blunt in her assessment of Carson and Republicans.

“Well, he ain’t gonna do nothing for us,” she told The Guardian. “I think that the mother****** ain’t gonna do s**t.”

During his tour of Ferguson, Carson said he didn’t see race as much of a problem in America. He also said he was raised to respect police and never had a problem with them, even though he grew up in the inner city.

“We need to deemphasize race,” Carson said. “And we need to emphasize respect for everyone in society. And fairness and justice for all.”

He also challenged the Black Lives Matter movement, calling on them to also talk about the Black lives lost to abortion and street violence.

“My beef with the Black Lives Matter movement has been, I think they need to add a word. And that word is ‘All.’ All Black Lives Matter,” said Carson. “Including the ones that are eradicated by abortions, including the ones that are eradicated on the streets every day by violence. We need to be looking at all the factors that have kept the Black community in a very dependent position for decades.”

Carson is a hero in the Black community because of his rise from poverty to the top of the medical field. His autobiography, Healing Hands, is often seen as an inspiration to Black children. However, many people are turned off by his conservative politics.

Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers University, doubted whether Carson would be able to win Black voters over to the GOP. He told The Guardian Barack Obama’s presidency had sealed the ties between the Democratic Party and Black voters.

“Ben Carson’s on a fool’s mission,” Baker said. “If he thought he was going constituency shopping in Ferguson today, he was in the wrong neighborhood.”

John Sousa, national chairman of the Carson-supporting super pac The 2016 Committee, said it was essential that the GOP nominate Carson if they didn’t want to permanently alienate the Black community. He said the Democrats would have the edge if the GOP nominee was anyone other than Carson.

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