BALTIMORE (Politico) — Republican leaders have talked obsessively about the need to appeal to more minority voters in 2016, after a disastrous showing in the last presidential election. But it wasn’t until Thursday that a GOP presidential candidate actually visited this city, the country’s current heart of racial tensions.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who lived here in Baltimore for 36 years, returned Thursday afternoon for a roundtable with a largely African American group of clergy members and businesspeople to discuss what his team called the “need for healing” following the death of a young man in police custody, and the subsequent riots that tore through the city.
Carson, a long-shot presidential candidate whose support so far is largely from the most conservative element of the GOP, is African American and grew up in extreme poverty in Detroit and Boston. (He was so poor, he has said, that when he went to the state fair as a child, he couldn’t afford to go on any rides or even buy cotton candy.) Carson’s team believes he is uniquely able to connect to poor and minority communities by telling his personal story, and they saw an opportunity for him to speak out this week.