Rising Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson gets warm welcome in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs — Rising Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson stole the show Friday at a conservative gathering in Steamboat Springs.
After he signed several copies of his books, posed for photos with fans and their babies and played a game of pool in front of a crowd at the Steamboat Grand, Carson gave a speech that was well-received by the hundreds of conservatives in attendance at the Seventh Annual Freedom Conference.
Carson, who has surged to second place behind Donald Trump in a recent poll of GOP contenders, also fielded questions from conference attendees.
Asked about his rise in the polls, Carson suggested it means the American people are “waking up and starting to realize political experience is not the answer.”
He said members of Congress collectively have 9,000 years of political experience. “Where has it gotten us?,” Carson asked.
Several members of the audience clapped when a moderator noted Carson had surpassed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in a recent poll.
During his speech, Carson spoke of wanting to create a mechanism for people who are in poverty to move up the economic ladder.
He also outlined his ideas for reducing both the size of government and national debt.
He said if he was president, he would call in every government department director and order them to cut 2-3 percent of their budget or be fired.
The exercise would continue for three to four years, along with a hiring freeze, he said.
Carson also spoke about his humble beginnings and the thriftiness of his mother.
He said when he was a child, his mother would stop at farms and propose that she would pick four bushels of corn or fruit, keep one and give the other three back to the farmers.
“If my mother were secretary of the treasury, we would not be in a deficit situation,” Carson said.
Dozens of conference attendees gave Carson a warm welcome in the morning during a meet and greet in a tent at Torian Plum Plaza.
“You get a warm feeling when you shake his hand,” Steamboat resident Trish Riniker said after she met Carson.
Other people who had just met Carson described him as “intelligent,” “humble” and “caring.”
The Freedom Conference continues on Saturday with several more speakers and sessions.
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Brothers Wyatt and Zach Patterson opened the Storm Peak Bus Stop this week, and people have already started flowing into Steamboat Springs’ newest taproom for their house-crafted beers.