Ben Carson to address ND GOP convention in Fargo
FARGO -- When word got around Friday, March 25, that Ben Carson, who dropped out of the presidential race last month, will deliver a keynote address to the North Dakota Republican Party's state convention here next weekend, it fired the imaginati...
FARGO -- When word got around Friday, March 25, that Ben Carson, who dropped out of the presidential race last month, will deliver a keynote address to the North Dakota Republican Party’s state convention here next weekend, it fired the imagination of Mark Thelen, chairman of the District 46 Republican Party in Fargo.
“I think it brings a lot of excitement, because he was a candidate for president and was on the national stage,” he said.
“Anytime you get a speaker like that, it’s exciting for the party to hear from, added Thelen, who was noncommittal when asked what he thought of Carson’s endorsement of Donald Trump, his former rival in the race to be the Republican-endorsed candidate for president.
“We’ve got a big tent and we need to welcome everyone who’s interested in running and we need to support our nominee, whoever that’s going to be,” Thelen said.
‘I’m not for him or against him,” he said of Trump. “If he’s our nominee, he deserves our support.”
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is scheduled to begin his convention talk at about 10:10 a.m. Sunday, April 3, in the Scheels Arena, said Roz Leighton, the North Dakota GOP’s executive director.
Republicans still are lining up a high-profile speaker the Saturday, April 2, keynote address at the convention, which begins on Friday, April 1.
Since dropping out of the presidential race and endorsing Trump, Carson has been stumping on behalf of the billionaire reality TV star, including a recent appearance on the daytime talk show “The View,” where Carson’s support for Trump placed him in the critical crosshairs of some of the show’s stars, including Whoopi Goldberg.
Thelen said he hasn’t been keeping up with what Carson has been saying about the nomination race and he’s not sure what Carson’s talk will entail.
But Thelen said a convention appearance by anyone with Carson’s notoriety will be “good for the Republican party and good for the convention.”
Christopher Langerud, District 44 Republican Chairman in Fargo, echoed Thelen.
"I'm very interested in what Dr. Carson has to say," he said. "It will be an exciting weekend for North Dakota Republicans."
In addition to being a retired surgeon, Carson is a professional public speaker who earns thousands in talks he gives to a wide variety of audiences.
According to federal campaign disclosures, Carson earned more than $4.1 million in speaking fees from early 2014 to early 2015, with the price of his talks ranging from about $10,000 per speech to more than $40,000.