Dr. Benjamin Carson, a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, won over conservatives at the National Prayer Breakfast last month, where he criticized ObamaCare right in front of President Obama. Then he appeared at CPAC, where he fueled the fire of conservatives calling for him to run for president in 2016: "Let's just say if you magically put me in the White House..." he said, to cheers. Carson, whose fame has exploded as his prayer breakfast speech went viral on YouTube, has no political background but quite a compelling story: He rose from poverty in Detroit to become director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, he has several books to his name, and Cuba Gooding Jr. once played him in a movie.
His latest book, America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great, has sold 46,000 copies since the speech. Appearances on Fox News have bolstered his popularity. But Carson won't identify himself as a Republican, though his views have turned decidedly conservative since his "flaming liberal" days in college, he tells the New York Times. He's religious and supports a flat tax, in which someone who makes $10 billion pays $1 billion and someone who makes $10 pays $1. But not all Carson's views are popular with the GOP: The Daily Caller, which calls him "a conservative star on the rise," reports that he did not support the invasions of either Iraq or Afghanistan.