Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson wowed Washington, D.C., Republicans Monday night as he won their straw poll – and may even be open to D.C. statehood.
In his keynote address to the D.C. GOP, Carson slammed Obamacare, praised school choice and criticized the president for dividing the country. He also pointed to the challenges ahead for Republicans.
The author and conservative favorite noted how nearly 30 million evangelical Christians didn't vote in the 2012 election and said when it comes to government spending, there are more "people in the wagon than pulling it."
Answering audience questions, Carson offered his support for a guest worker program modeled after Canada's while underscoring the necessity of securing the country's borders. The retired neurosurgeon also reiterated his stance on vaccinations, stating while he supports individual rights, he has seen the crucial role that the nation's immunization policies have played in eradicating communicable diseases.
Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Carson said he did not object to D.C. statehood but cautioned that it lacked sufficient infrastructure.
When asked about how he could earn the support of more liberal urban Republican voters while holding more socially conservative views, Carson responded that he has not taken controversial positions. "I've offered to the gay community an opportunity asking can you let me know what position a person can take who has nothing against gay people but who believes in traditional marriage that is acceptable to them and I haven't heard an answer to that," said Carson.
He went on to say that he would support anything to "prevent discrimination period based on sexual orientation, based on religious beliefs, based on everything we are." Carson added, "the good things is we already have that, it's called the Constitution of the United States."
Many attendees were impressed. "The guy know's what he's doing," said D.C. resident Richard Merkle, adding Carson "had a solid understanding of education." However, Merkle also said he had not heard Carson speak to issues he had hoped to hear him address including trade and foreign policy.
Carson won the straw poll with 44 percent of the vote. Jeb Bush came in second with 17 percent. Marco Rubio next at 11 percent and Scott Walker at 7 percent. In the latest national poll Carson places fifth.