A leading Republican presidential candidate made a Tallahassee stopover on Monday. Dr. Ben Carson’s book signing attracted well over 1,000 people (final estimates pegged the turnout at just above 1,500).
At first, the Carson people insisted the candidate was actually putting his campaign on hold while he tours the country in support of his latest book, “A More Perfect Union.” But book tour stops are now included along with other appearances on the official Carson Campaign website. No matter what it was called, Carson’s Monday book signing at the Tallahassee Books-A-Million brought out large numbers of people, many of them wearing Carson campaign buttons and other signs of support. Among them, Roger Smith.
“You have a non-politician here that talks quietly and means what he says and knows how to draw people together,” Smith remarked. “All his life he’s been the underdog and I think he feels like he’s led by faith. Because of that, I’m backing him.”
LaTonya Robinson liked the Doctor’s political bedside manner.
“I think he’s cool. I think he’s pretty cool,” she exclaimed after getting her book signed.
While Mary Beth Maxwell, who moved to Tallahassee recently from Texas, believed Carson has tapped into a deep wellspring of voter discontent.
“I think we’re so sick of the government and they’re not doing anything and the way they’re just taking over our lives and what he’s saying is get back to the basics and I think that’s what people want to do,” she said.
Not everyone was there for purely political purposes. Dick Hayes wanted to meet Carson because of a shared experience long ago.
“I said, ‘I’m from Baltimore and got a special connection to Johns Hopkins Hospital.’ I said, ‘Does the name Dr. Harriet Guild ring a bell because she was the chief of pediatrics when you were there?’ And he said, “Uh…vaguely.’”
Meanwhile, Jan Collier admired the logistics of the event as much as the demeanor of the candidate.
“It’s a very slick system, they just pass out the books and then he smiles. He’s got a KILLER smile!” she laughed.
Not everyone was appreciative of Carson’s smile, or his religion for that matter. For part of the event a few people waved signs at passing Thomasville road motorists expressing concern over the candidate’s faith, which he’s identified as Seventh Day Adventist; a church regarded with suspicion by some in the evangelical community. Of course the defining question regarding any presidential hopeful is; can they win? Former Leon County Clerk Dave Lang, no stranger to political calculation he, thinks it would be foolish to underestimate Carson’s appeal beyond his current support base.
“I think there’s always a chance,” Lang said. “There’s always a chance. You never know. You just never know.”
And with that, Dr. Ben Carson hopped aboard his tour bus and headed south. Next stop, the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in The Villages.