Ben Carson held up ISIS as an example for the U.S. during his RNC speech on Thursday
The retired neurosurgeon is contemplating a presidential bid
His controversial comments have won him fans and detractors in the past
“We’ve got ISIS. They’ve got the wrong philosophy, but they’re willing to die for what they believe, while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness,” he said during his speech at the RNC’s winter meeting. “We have to change that.”
Carson acknowledged his comments were likely to spark controversy and gain headlines, but he preemptively dismissed the press attention.
“They are just so ridiculous,” he said, to laughter from the crowd.
The remarks are similar to ones he made previously, likening the United States government to Nazi Germany in that both, he argued, worked to silence their opponents. Carson stood by those comments when pressed in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
It’s that very penchant — for frank and often controversial comments — that has made him so popular with the GOP base, and turned the retired neurosurgeon into a rising conservative star who just last month polled third in a CNN/ORC survey of the potential GOP presidential field.
He’s made no secret of his interest in the race, and recently said he “feel[s] fingers” from God to run.
Many within the establishment wing of the party remain wary of him, however, because of his talent for the very remarks that make him so popular with the far right. He also started a firestorm of criticism over comments he made that Obamacare was the “worst thing” to happen to the U.S. since slavery.
But his appearance at the RNC’s winter meeting, alongside the likes of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, suggest that Carson’s popularity on the right has earned him some notice from the establishment as the party charts its course heading into 2016.
CNN’s Terence Burlij contributed to this report