Ben Carson comes to Council Bluffs

Nebraska attorney Dave Begley has reported for us from Iowa on appearances by presidential candidates including Democrat/Socialist Bernie Sanders and Republican candidates Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina. As is evident from his report, Dave is Power Line reader who is representative of the kind of active conservative participating in Republican caucuses and (in Dave’e case) primaries. Dave has filed this report on the appearance of Republican candidate Ben Carson in Iowa yesterday:

BenCarsonwIshmaelgift I spent three and one-half hours at the Ben Carson rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The event was at the pre-Civil War Bayliss Park at the town square. It is a lovely park. I estimated the crowd at 1,000 plus with many from Nebraska, the Dakotas and Missouri. The Iowa campaign co-chair (a female doctor) said they had 2,000 in Des Moines and 1,400 in Cedar Rapids.

A black man named Ishmael attended the event. He was excited to give Dr. Carson a hand-carved African walking stick. I kid you not. (Picture above.)

Scott Johnson is correct. It is impossible not to like Dr. Carson and also impossible not to admire him. He was way more relaxed and animated than he was at the debate. I would also say the GOP field (especially in Iowa) should not underestimate him. From the applause lines and the tone of the event, he has many Christians lined up for him. A pastor gave a prayer. Many references to God.

I suspect many of the people were like my seatmates. They were a couple married for 54 years and they brought their adult daughter. They knew about the event via their Baptist church in Nebraska. The matriarch was long familiar with his book Gifted Hands and had emphasized it at her Catholic grade school where she worked as a librarian.

Carson now owns the evangelical demographic in Iowa. Huckabee and Santorum are finished with that crowd. Carson is the fresh face and he is not a politician. He is trying to pull off the greatest career change in American political history.

He gave his stump speech of about 45 minutes with no notes. He started out saying the stakes for our country are high. He was all ready to retire when he made his second appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast. Only Billy Graham has appeared there twice. Big applause.

He said that after the prayer event he heard from many people urging him to run for President in order to save our country. His says that it is too risky to leave this task to politicians. Throughout his speech he really stressed his outsider status. He repeatedly portrayed himself as a uniter and not a divider. He described how the Dems have divided us based on race and gender.

He said something to the effect that “we can’t allow the special interests to trump the interests of the country” and he really emphasized the work “trump.” That was it for The Donald in CB.

He attacked Hillary Clinton and her Alinskyite desire to fundamentally change America with her attitude that the government knows better than the average person. He mentioned a number of times that poor people aren’t stupid and can run their own lives but the progressives think otherwise. All persons have dignity and a desire to improve their lives.

The last election could have been won if 30 million evangelical Christians would have voted. A number of times he told the crowd to tell their friends about his candidacy. He then discussed debt and unfunded liabilities numbers: 18 trillion and 211 trillion, respectively. He also noted that illegal aliens will drive those numbers up.

He asserted that the Democratic party is out to destroy America by dividing us, creating massive debt and defunding the military. We have the smallest Navy since 1917. He was wonky but in a clear and engaging way.

Dr. Carson called on a freeze on all government hiring. He also asserted that there are 4.200 people in the Department of Education that make mid six figures. He would cut all departments’ budgets (except Defense) by 2-3 percent per year.

Other than specialized care, any Veteran could use any hospital or clinic. That is an earth-shattering idea.

He would enact a flat tax of between 10 and 15 percent. And that would apply to capital gains. (Big applause.) Not clear to me if that would be the corporate tax rate. No double taxation. Goodbye estate tax.

The biggest applause line was his goal to protect religious rights. That clinched my view that the crowd was mostly church people.

He took 13 questions and I was first. I asked him about the Clean Power Plan regs. I noted that even the EPA concedes temperature avoidance would only be 0.02 degrees by 2100. (H/T: Steven Hayward.) Less than ten miles from the park is a big coal-fired utility plant that supplies power to a giant Google server farm and all of southwest Iowa. I asked if he would urge the county and State to become sanctuaries from these EPA regs.

He said he wanted to declare the entire country as a sanctuary from the EPA. Carson then made an unexpected pivot with a very interesting and sophisticated statement. He postulated that Obama is going to cut some environmental deal at an upcoming event in Paris and that he was planning to circumvent the treaty requirement of the Constitution. Again. I think he is correct there. More imperial presidential actions by Obama as they have worked so far.

The event was lots of fun. They offered free roasted sweet corn and, as a Cornhusker, I had an ear. Although it was from Iowa, it was very good.

He gave a local TV interview and was completely mobbed for handshakes and photos for at least 30 minutes. He appears to have a substantial base of support in Iowa.

UPDATE: Dave forwards a link to the Omaha World-Herald story on Carson’s appearance in Council Bluffs. He thinks the story underestimates the size of the crowd at the event.