Ben Carson, looking to rebound back into the top-tier of the GOP presidential race, told The State Monday that he will look to campaign more in South Carolina than in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary after Monday’s Iowa caucus.
With his social conservative credentials, the retired Maryland neurosurgeon is polling better in South Carolina — usually fourth or fifth — than in New Hampshire, where he is the seventh or eighth choice ahead of that state’s Feb. 9 primary.
“New Hampshire tends to be a little more liberal state, and I am not really going to resonate with liberals very well, which is OK,” Carson told The State as Iowa voters prepared to cast the first votes of the 2016 election.
Carson has visited South Carolina 17 times since 2013 versus nine visits to New Hampshire, according to political tracker site P2016.org. No new S.C. visits are on Carson’s campaign schedule this week.
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Carson was the second choice of likely S.C. GOP voters for much of the fall, but his numbers slid after questions were raised about his preparedness to handle national- security issues.
Carson expects to have a base in South Carolina, where a majority of GOP voters are evangelical Christians. He said he hopes to win over more voters by being less partisan than his opponents, including bombastic GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Carson’s quiet demeanor has been lampooned often.
“There’s a false narrative that he who is loudest and jumps up and down the most is probably the one who is toughest and can take care of our problems,” said Carson, who became a renowned surgeon after a poor upbringing in Detroit. “What really determines toughness is what you accomplished in your life. What odds have you overcome? Have you done anything that no one’s ever done before? I’ve done that on multiple occasions.”
The top two 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls already have announced plans to visit the Palmetto State this week. South Carolina holds the GOP’s third primary on Feb. 20.
Trump will hold a rally Friday at the Florence Civic Center.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is expected to announce the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, Tuesday at a Greenville news conference. Cruz has canceled a planned Tuesday rally at a Piedmont high school, the Anderson County GOP Party said.