Ben Carson is coming to Africa to polish his foreign policy knowledge, gain some goodwill

US Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson lies fourth on the new Monmouth poll organised by the Monmouth University Polling Institute. Carson polled 13 percent behind Ted Cruz (24 percent), Donald Trump (19 percent) and Marco Rubio (17 percent). To improve his ratings, the retired neurosurgeon has put three African countries on his itinerary after tracing his roots back to Kenya. US President Barack Obama whose father Barack Obama, Sr., was a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Kenya.

“…it will require time for people to actually listen to what I’m saying about the security of our nation and about foreign policy rather than to make assumptions,” Carson, who had been said to be struggling to grasp foreign policy told the Hugh Hewitt Show.

To brush up this weak spot he has decided to make some foreign trips which will take him to Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya.

“Leaving on the 27th of this month. Well, you know, I think a lot of our policy in the future is going to affect Africa, but those three in particular because my ancestors are from the Kenya-Tanzania region, the Turkana tribe. I’ve had all of that traced back,” Carson said.

He chose Nigeria to be part of his three-nation trip not because the country is the most populous in Africa or the continent’s largest economy, but for two reasons. The retired surgeon says he wants to see things firsthand; “get an ideal from the people what the effects of Boko Haram are, what people are thinking, to see what the economic situation is there….” Carson also plans to visit Babcock University, a privately-owned institution in Nigeria whose medical school is named after him. 

Giving the reason for his planned trip to Zambia, Carson says he would like to visit the Banda twins. “We separated them. They were joined at the top of the head facing in opposite directions almost 18 years ago, and this is the year they graduate from high school.

“And they’re the first complexly joined twins that have ever turned out to be neurologically detached.”

Ben Carson also spoke in support of private initiatives where American companies make huge profit and in turn develop infrastructure, provide jobs and transfer knowledge. He stressed initiatives like this benefit both the US and Africa, and “beats the heck out of borrowing billions of dollars from China, paying the interest on it, and then giving it to people as foreign aid.”

Carson is also not a fan of sending ground troops to help Nigeria end Boko Haram insurgency. However, he suggests the use of Special Ops people and various tactical advantages.

With his African trip, among others, Carson is hoping to convince voters about his ability to lead the US on the world stage.

The retired neurosurgeon will also be banking on the support of African-Americans, now that he has publicly declared he traced his roots back to Africa. In 2008 and 2012, having African roots worked for President Obama as African-American voters turned out at unprecedented levels to support him.

However, Carson has the Republican hurdle to cross. If he emerges as the party’s candidate, it would be interesting to see whether his African roots would shift the support of African-American voters who have been known historically to support Democrats by overwhelming margins.