The race for the Republican presidential nomination, already shaping up as a no-holds-barred cage fight that will make Mayweather-Pacquiao look like two little girls having a tiff, just got even more awesome -- that is if you like your politics brutal and bloody.
Ben Carson, the celebrated neurosurgeon and Tea Party sweetheart who earlier this year said debt and radical Islam would destroy the U.S., and who has called Obamacare the worst American travesty since slavery, just announced his candidacy at an event in Detroit. And Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard today called Hillary Rodham Clinton untrustworthy as she revealed on ABC’s Good Morning America that she, too, is seeking the GOP nod.
Until now, Obama has been Carson’s main target, and Hillary has been the object of Fiorina’s scorn. That probably won’t change, but those already in the run for the GOP nomination (Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul) and those who might join the fray (Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham) should watch their backs. Two attack dogs are now running with the pack.
Carson is erudite and soft-spoken, but he is hardly Gentle Ben. According to a profile in GQ last month, he has casually suggested that President Obama is a “psychopath.” He has also had to back away from inflammatory statements about homosexuality and from likening America today to Nazi Germany.
Fiorina doesn’t pull her punches either.
At the CPAC convention earlier this year, she said of Clinton:"She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights. She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards -- and neither will our president. Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means."
Obama already answered a question that would have been asked about Carson a decade ago: Can an African American without substantial political or executive experience be elected president of the United States?
So now the Carson candidacy pumps up the question, and it becomes: Can an African American with no political or executive experience and with views that position him on the far right be taken seriously as a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016 and, if he is successful, actually win the presidency?
The question about Fiorina’s viability as a candidate is equally tough. Can a one-percenter who had a troubled run as chief of a onetime icon of Corporate America and who lost a battle to unseat Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California morph into a retail politician with the charisma to connect with everyday Americans?
And both Carson and Fiorina will face opponents who have already plenty of cash in their campaign war chests.
Both have one thing going for them, though: They are true Washington outsiders. Other candidates will try to make that case as they appeal to voters fed up with all the Beltway brawling, but few of the prospective opponents Carson and Fiorina will face can point to major accomplishments that don’t involve politics. Carson had a storied career as a neurosurgeon, and Fiorina was once seen as a talented, visionary businesswoman breaking through the glass ceiling of Corporate America.
Those achievements will come in handy as Carson tries to convince the nation that the presidency is, in fact, brain surgery and Fiorina sets about selling the notion that maybe someone with executive experience should be in charge.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times