African-American Ben Carson announces presidential run
Two political outsiders have expanded the Republican field of White House hopefuls as former technology executive Carly Fiorina announced she's running for president and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson launched his bid as well today.
Fiorina is likely to be the only prominent woman to seek the party's nomination, with Carson the only likely African-American.
Both Fiorina and Carson have the potential to help the Republican win over a more diverse group of supporters in 2016.
Both candidates begin the race as underdogs in a campaign expected to feature several seasoned politicians, among them former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Yet while those prospects have claimed much of the early attention and favor from donors, the Republican 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.
Fiorina and Carson will compete against Republican counterparts Rubio and Cruz, 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.
Fiorina, 60, chose the venue of a nationally broadcast morning network news show to announce her candidacy Monday, 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."
Carson got ahead of himself on Sunday, confirming his plans to run in an interview that aired on an Ohio television station.
The retired surgeon rested his longshot bid on his vision of the nation as "a place of dreams" where people can thrive when freed from an overbearing government.
Carson, the only African-American in the race, spoke in front of hundreds of people at Detroit Music Hall, a few miles from a high school that bears his name. A choir singing the chorus from Eminem's "Lose Yourself" set the stage.
He told supporters that he's not anti-government but believes Washington has exceeded its constitutional powers.
"It's time for people to rise up and take the government back," he said. "The political class won't like me saying things like that. The political class comes from both parties."
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 a high-profile Washington event in 2013.
He has established a strong base of vocal support among the conservative tea-party movement, some of whom launched an effort to push Carson into the race before he set up an exploratory committee earlier this year.
Yet he has stumbled at times.
He has suggested Obamacare 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 country's effort to care for former members of the military.