On the eve of the his party’s third debate, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson promised not to curb his penchant for using extreme examples to prove his points.
“I don’t buy the PC stuff. I just don’t buy it,” Carson said in a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press. He said the country can discuss complicated issues as adults, and he suggested people could learn from his example.
“One of my goals is to get us to mature as a society,” he said. “We should be mature enough to be able to talk about things without going into a tizzy.”
To date, Carson’s style has not affected his climb through the GOP’s ranks to challenge Donald Trump as a front-runner for the Republican nomination. Indeed, many conservatives embrace the unvarnished approach of the retired neurosurgeon who has never before run for office.
Yet Carson’s own advisers worry the rhetorical grenades may complicate his ability to go far in the competitive and still unsettled Republican field.
Beyond his outsider status, Carson’s appeal comes largely from his identity as a mild-mannered physician with a measured approach to the rough-and-tumble of politics. Regular references to Nazis and slavery, his advisers suggest, could threaten to obscure his larger message as a man with the temperament to quell the acrimony of Washington.
“It is not a [deliberate] strategy,” said Carson’s communications director, Doug Watts, pointing specifically to Carson’s decision to use the Holocaust as a way to illustrate why the U.S. shouldn’t enact tougher gun restrictions.
“The Nazis may not be the most perfect comparison,” Watts said. “We’ve spoken to him several times and said, ‘You can find better examples,’ and he understands that.”
Yet a few minutes later, in the interview with AP, Carson again made an argument by referencing the Nazis and slavery.
“What happened in Nazi Germany can never happen again unless we forget it, unless we won’t talk about it,” Carson said.
The only major black candidate in the 2016 field of either party, Carson recounted Tuesday how two of his ancestors, brother and sister, were separated by different slave owners.
“It always makes me tear up a little bit when I think about what people had to go through,” he said.