Carson: Black voters 'waking up' to GOP
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Ben CarsonBen CarsonBen Carson launches conservative think tank Trump's '1776 Report' released on MLK Day receives heavy backlash Biden has an opportunity to win over conservative Christians MORE on Saturday said African-American voters are "waking up" to the possibility of supporting GOP candidates for office like himself. 
"I think there's a lot of people who are waking up," the neurosurgeon-turned-presidential candidate said at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.
"I met with a group of black pastors yesterday and people are waking up in droves," he continued. "I think they're realizing what's been happening here." 
Carson said he converted to the Republican Party after growing up and going to school in Democratic strongholds during the Reagan administration. 
"I started listening to Ronald Reagan … and I said he doesn't doesn't sound like that," he said, noting he had heard horror stories about conservatives during his entire upbringing. 
Carson criticized President Obama for shrinking the size of the U.S. military in the face of terrorism threats in the Middle East. 
"Our military is shrinking while our enemies are growing and metastasizing," he said. "It seems like we're trying to destroy ourselves. We've got to do better than that." 
The Republican presidential hopeful said he would prepared to fight Islamic State in Syria and Iraq if successful in his bid to become commander-in-chief. 
"We have radical Islamic jihadists who want to destroy us and they want to destroy our way of life," he said. "And their existence is a threat to us. We cannot be in that mindset that we made a mistake and we spent a bunch of money, so let's just get into our little cocoon. That's not going to work."