Politics

GOP field grows: Fiorina, Carson launch presidential bids

Carly Fiorina speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, in January. Fiorina is, so far, the lone Republican woman eying the White House.
Carly Fiorina speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, in January. Fiorina is, so far, the lone Republican woman eying the White House.
Charlie Neibergall/AP
Carly Fiorina speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, in January. Fiorina is, so far, the lone Republican woman eying the White House.
In this file photo, Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon, addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. On Monday, May 4, 2015, Carson joined Carly Fiorina in announcing a run for president, further expanding the Republican field of hopefuls.
Alex Wong/Getty Images


Candidate profiles: Carly Fiorina | Ben Carson

8:57 a.m.: Famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson announces White House campaign

Retired surgeon Ben Carson has made it official, telling a crowd in his hometown of Detroit that he's running for president.

The former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins hospital has never run for public office. But he's a star among some conservatives and will try to parlay his success as an author and speaker into a competitive campaign.

He told his rally: "I'm Ben Carson and I'm a candidate for president."

Carson is also expected to be the only high-profile African-American to enter the GOP's presidential primary.

He is the second White House hopeful to get into the Republican race Monday. Former technology executive Carly Fiorina declared her intent to run earlier in the day.

— Ed White/AP

8:41 a.m.: GOP field grows: Fiorina, Carson to launch presidential bids

Former technology executive Carly Fiorina announced she's running for president, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was set to launch his bid as well on Monday, as the Republican field of hopefuls expands once more. Both Fiorina and Carson have the potential to help the GOP win over a more diverse group of supporters in 2016.

Fiorina is likely to be the only prominent woman to seek the GOP nomination, with Carson the only likely African-American. They are both also political outsiders in a field likely to be dominated by governors, former governors and senators.

The two are not considered political allies and the timing of their announcements, planned weeks ago, is coincidental.

Fiorina, 60, chose a nationally broadcast morning network news show to announce her candidacy, and she also posted a video.

The former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co., appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," said she understands "executive decision-making."

She also criticized Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for her party's nomination, for a lack of transparency, including the use of a private email server while secretary of State and foreign donations to her family's charitable foundation.

"I have a lot of admiration for Hillary Clinton, but she clearly is not trustworthy," Fiorina said.

Carson also got ahead of himself on Sunday, confirming his plans to run in an interview that aired on an Ohio television station.

"I'm willing to be part of the equation and therefore, I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States of America," he told WKRC-TV in Cincinnati.

Carson, 63, is scheduled to make his formal announcement Monday in a speech from his native Detroit shortly after having breakfast at a local museum of African-American history.

Both candidates begin the race as underdogs in a campaign expected to feature several seasoned politicians, among them former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Yet while they have claimed much of the early attention and favor from donors, the GOP race is a wide-open contest that could ultimately feature as many as two dozen major candidates.

The Republican field is already more diverse than it was four years ago. Rubio and Cruz are each vying to become the first Hispanic president. And most of the candidates are in their 40s and 50s.

Still, the Republican National Committee has acknowledged a pressing need to broaden the party's appeal beyond its traditional base of older, white men. President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012 with the strong support of women and ethnic minorities, who are becoming a larger portion of the American electorate.

Raised in Detroit by a single mother, Carson practiced medicine and served as the head of pediatric neurosurgery for close to three decades at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Children's Center. He gained national renown in conservative politics after condemning Obama's health care law at the 2013 national prayer breakfast.

He has established a strong base of vocal support among tea party-backers, some of whom launched an effort to pushCarson into the race before he set up an exploratory committee earlier this year.

Yet he has stumbled at times in the glare of national politics. He has suggested the Affordable Care Act is the worst thing since slavery, compared present-day America to Nazi Germany, and called problems at the nation's Veterans Affairs hospitals "a gift from God" because they revealed holes in the country's effort to care for former members of the military.

Fiorina, meanwhile, has a resume more likely to draw support among the Republican establishment. The former business executive became a prominent figure in Republican politics in 2010, when she ran for Senate in California and lost to incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer by 10 points.

Both Carson and Fiorina are launching national tours in early voting states.

Carson is scheduled to spend the first three days of his presidential campaign in Iowa, before heading to South Carolina at the end of the week and New Hampshire and Nevada the next.

Fiorina's first post-announcement public event is scheduled for Tuesday in New York City, although she will campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina by week's end.

— Steve Peoples/AP

Things to know about Carly Fiorina

Fiorina, 60, a law-school dropout who endured illness and deep personal loss, rose from a job as secretary to become CEO of what was at the time the world's largest technology company, Hewlett-Packard.

The company's revenue doubled and its annual growth quadrupled during her tenure at Hewlett-Packard but she was fired in 2005, a time of infighting on the board and slipping stock prices.

She is a breast-cancer survivor and adoptive mother of an adult daughter who died of drug and alcohol addiction. Fiorina won the 2010 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in California, but lost the race to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

RESUME REVIEW

Fiorina's story is one of self-determination, bumps, successes and high-profile failures. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Stanford University, she attended law school for a semester at the University of California at Los Angeles before quitting. She received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland, and a master's of science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Fiorina rose steadily through management ranks at AT&T beginning in 1980, and was named president of spinoff Lucent's marketing and sales. A year later, she was named Fortune magazine's 1998 most powerful woman in business, regarded as the first female captain of a Fortune 20 corporation.

In 1999, Hewlett-Packard named Fiorina chief executive officer. Her tenure was marked by the merger with Compaq, a leading competitor. Fiorina was fired in 2005 when she refused the board's reassignment, after receiving criticism for the Compaq merger. She's served on several boards since.

PERSONAL STORY

While Fiorina's professional and political battles have played out quite publicly, she has faced serious personal challenges throughout her adult life.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and had a double mastectomy; her prognosis was favorable. Also in 2009, she and her husband Frank experienced the death by drug and alcohol addiction of Lori, Frank's daughter from a previous marriage whom Fiorina raised with Frank along with his other daughter, Traci.

Fiorina is the author of two books, "Tough Choices," published in 2007, and "Rising to the Challenge," released this year.

— AP

Things to know about Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson has never held public office, but he hopes to parlay fame as a surgeon, author and conservative commentator into an outsider's campaign against established politicians.

A nationally respected physician with a rags-to-riches story, Carson excoriates the modern welfare state. "I believe in a safety net for people who need a safety net," he says, acknowledging that his mother sometimes accepted government assistance when he was a child. But, he added, "I do not believe in a system that puts people in a chronic state of dependence."

He talks openly of his religious faith. Carson also is the only African-American in the Republican field when GOP leaders acknowledge the party's need to attract more non-white voters.

But he also blisters President Barack Obama, who remains extremely popular among African-Americans. Carson once compared Obama's health care overhaul to slavery. Carson blasts alliances between powerful interests and the federal government, saying the system denies most Americans a real opportunity at economic advancement and political power.

The challenge for Carson is to capitalize on being the anti-politician while still mounting an effective campaign. Just as important, can he avoid mistakes that hobble longshot candidates? A recent example: Carson told CNN that being gay is "absolutely" a choice; he apologized after an uproar.

RESUME REVIEW

Carson, 63, gained prominence in the medical community during 29 years directing pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Perhaps his greatest single professional achievement came in 1987, whenCarson led the first successful separation of twins connected at the back of the head. He has served on corporate boards and the governing board of Yale University, his undergraduate alma mater. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Carson the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the U.S. government bestows. He speaks and signs books across the country and appears regularly on Fox News, which feeds his popularity among conservatives. About his political inexperience, he says: "It's not about me. It's about 'we the people.'"

PERSONAL STORY

Carson grew up in Detroit and tells audiences of a bare-bones childhood in which his single mother, who didn't finish elementary school, struggled to get by. Carson concedes she sometimes took welfare assistance, but criticizes a culture that he says grew up around that help — of liberal politicians offering welfare in exchange for votes. "Whenever the government would announce a new program, people were so excited, 'Yeah, we're going to get more goodies,' " he told a tea party convention in January. Carson said he learned from that upbringing that "the person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you. It's not somebody else. It's not the environment. We have got to get that message to Americans, that you are not a victim." Besides his bachelor's from Yale, Carson holds a medical degree from the University of Michigan. Carson and his wife, Candy, have been married since 1975. They have three sons.

CALLING CARD MOMENT

The 2009 movie "Gifted Hands" featured Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carson. But the doctor's political coming out happened when he was keynote speaker for the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Only feet away from Obama, Carson used his platform to disparage Obama's health care law, the progressive income tax structure and rising national debt, among other things. In particular, the speech raised Carson's profile as a conservative front-man on health care policy.

EARLY STATE ACTION

Carson has made trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but not as often as his rivals.

READING LIST

Carson has released eight books, from his autobiography, "Gifted Hands," to his latest political commentary, "One Nation: What We All Can Do to Save America's Future."

— AP

This story has been updated.