Top GOP presidential contender Ben Carson’s book tour bus arrived right on schedule at the Carrollwood Barnes and Noble in Tampa Tuesday afternoon. Surrounded by security , B & N officials and a news crew, Carson was cheered by hundreds of people who waited for hours to get an autographed copy of “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties” written by Ben Carson, MD and Candy Carson, his wife.
The retired neurosurgeon went back to work, autographing his book, smiling and shaking hands with customers and supporters who bought his hardcover book at $14.97 per copy. As the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, Carson, 64, has a large following on social media. He also is an accomplished neurosurgeon.
The book tour stop in Tampa also happened on the same day that a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll showed Carson with a clear 6% lead over Donald Trump among GOP voters nationwide.
Barnes and Nobles store officials estimate Carson signed more than several hundred books during the 2-hour event. Michael Reeves from West Tampa was among the first 100 people to see Carson and was thrilled to get his book signed by the GOP presidential candidate.
“It’s a great opportunity to be here, to shake his hand, to see him. He’s always smiling. I think he’ll do a good job if he gets it. I’m undecided right now. Kind of doing my homework…trying to make sure that whoever I vote for that I’ll vote for the right guy or girl,” said Reeves, a Democrat and African-American. Most Carson book customers and supporters were Caucasian at this book signing, Reeves said if he gets the GOP’s nomination, Carson will attract a more diverse group of voters before the November 8, 2016 Election. The Florida Primary will be held in March 2016.
Adrienne Johnson and her daughter, Grace, both Asian-Americans, also were in line with Reeves. They waited more than an hour and made the trip from Port Richey for Carson’s book signing.
“I thought it was amazing. What an opportunity to finally meet possibly the next President,” said Adrienne Johnson, an undecided voter.
“But I think this will help make my decision,” Johnson added.
“This is my first time voting for President. He’s one of my top choices. It’s cool to see him,” said Grace Johnson, a University of South Florida student.
The soft-spoken Carson also took a break from signing books to answer questions from national, international, Orlando and Tampa area news media. When asked if Jeb Bush should drop out of the race, Carson said it’s up to Bush to make that decision.
Like Donald Trump, Carson is seeking an elected public office for the first time. When asked about his lack of political experience, Carson defended his record.
“I would say experience comes from a variety of different things. It does not come from you have to be in one segment or the other. So, I’ve had a lot of experience, doing things that have never been done before, particularly in the medical field. I’ve had a lot of experience on corporate boards. I’ve had experience in creating a national scholarship fund that has won major awards that is given to only one person. I don’t know anyone else out there who has done all those things.” Carson said.
Outside, “Carson Nation” and supporters sold campaign buttons and handed out free books on Carson’s RX for America. Many also took photos with Carson’s book in front of the tour bus.
From here, Carson’s bus headed to a book signing in Lakeland Tuesday night and to another book event in Sarasota on Wednesday.