Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Ben Carson's New Rap Ad Means for His Campaign

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Ben Carson's New Rap Ad Means for His Campaign

Article excerpt

Ben Carson's decision to roll out a new rap radio ad may have less to do with winning black votes for the Republican primary than with drawing positive attention to his campaign, experts say.

The 60-second ad, titled "Freedom," features hip-hop artist Aspiring Mogul, who implores listeners to "vote, vote," between snippets of Dr. Carson's stump speech. Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts described it as an effort to reach out to young black voters "on a level they appreciate and follow."

The ad may be an attempt to direct attention away from Carson's gaffes and controversial statements, some say. But others see the new ad, with its heavy urban beat, as a way to reach nontraditional Republican markets with a message that's palatable to his existing supporters.

"[I]f you listen to the message of the ad, it specifically cites the values of personal responsibility, hard work, and innovation. That's entirely consistent with his broader message regarding the keys to his own success, and what he believes is the best way to attack racism," Matthew Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, writes in an e-mail.

"He may genuinely believe he should reach out to the young black community," Professor Dickinson adds in a phone interview. But "his policy statement is to empower individuals to overcome racism, rather than pitting groups against each other. That's appealing to white Republicans."

Indeed, Carson's surge to the lead in major polls for the Republican presidential race has come largely from the support of white, rural communities and evangelical Christians, who relate to his emphasis on morality and family, the Monitor's Linda Feldmann writes.

Meanwhile, Carson's more controversial remarks - likening President Obama to a psychopath, calling the Affordable Care Act the worst thing "since slavery," and declaring that homosexuality is a choice - has created a growing gap between him and the black community.

"Has he lost his sense of who he is?" the Rev. Jamal Bryant, a prominent black pastor in Baltimore, told The Washington Post this spring. "He does not see he is the next Herman Cain. …

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