AMES, Iowa — As Donald Trump continues to make controversial comments designed to gain attention, Ben Carson hopes to gain support by doing the opposite.

He has learned several lessons since launching his presidential campaign in May, Carson told reporters gathered at the Family Leadership Summit. But he said the most important lessons have to do with how he wants to gain the public's attention.

"Probably the biggest lesson I've learned is how to speak in a way that allows people to actually hear what you are saying, rather than focus on one or two buzz words," Carson said.

Carson did not comment on Trump's accusation that Arizona Sen. John McCain may not have been a "war hero" had he not been held in captivity. Instead, Carson told reporters, McCain has done some wonderful things but calling him a war hero depends upon your definition of "war hero." Carson chose not to explain his definition of the term.

Carson, who enjoys the support of many evangelical Christians in the crowd on Iowa State's campus, received a standing ovation following his appearance onstage at the event sponsored by the Family Leader, a social conservative organization.

While taking questions from moderator Frank Luntz at the event, Carson proposed cutting "everything" the federal government does.

"I'm a surgeon so I know how to cut," Carson quipped as the crowd howled with a mixture of applause and laughter.

Carson was traveling with his wife in Iowa and told reporters that he was headed to Milwaukee, Wis., next on the campaign trail.