Physician Ben Carson sparked renewed speculation over his possible presidential aspirations with a fiery, well-received speech at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday — and he told The Hill he's open to the possibility of a run.
"If the circumstances were to evolve in such a way that that seemed to be what God was calling me to do, I would certainly do it. And I would never turn my back on my fellow citizens, if there was a hue and cry for such," he said.
He added that he'd rather learn to play golf and the organ in his retirement, but said that might have to wait for his "second retirement."
Carson emerged from a speech that drew frequent cheers from the audience — which was peppered with supporters holding "draft Ben Carson" signs — to a mob of supporters in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham Hotel, where hundreds of conservatives met this weekend for the annual conservative confab.
Carson rose as a player in the conservative movement after his speech at this year's National Prayer Breakfast, during which he criticized a number of President Obama's policies as the president sat nearby.
He has since been talked about as a potential contender in the 2016 presidential race, and this week signed on as a commentator with Fox News.
And Carson has every intention of staying in the spotlight, to "try to help the American people realize we are not each others' enemies," he said. He called the idea of a Republican "war on women" and class warfare "a bunch of crap."
His penchant for bombastic critiques of President Obama and progressive policies have made Carson the subject of criticism, and his Friday speech was no different. He made headlines for a comparison he drew between ObamaCare and slavery, which he later explained was inspired by the fact that both are "evil."
"I made that comparison in terms of evil things in our society," he said.
"Slavery was a clear evil which had a very negative impact on everything in our society, and ObamaCare is a clear evil that is also going to have a very negative impact on everything in our society — in addition to the fact that it subjugates the population to the government."
Carson said that he typically receives a warm reception from conservatives, which helps him realize that "the majority of people around this country are actually clear-minded, logical people, and they simply have been beaten into submission, and we need to give them the courage to stand up for their convictions."
He added that "part of the problem is the media is driving an agenda…and people are listening to them and starting to believe that there must be something wrong with the way they're thinking.
"That is completely the tactic that Saul Alinsky advocated," he said, a reference to a progressive activist seen by many on the right as a radical. "Now, I'm trying to educate people as to what's going on so they won't be so easily led."