If you missed the Dr. Ben Carson book signing at the Waco Barnes & Noble, you missed witnessing a truly amazing evening.
In town for just a few hours, promoting his new book “A More Perfect Union,” Carson signed over 1,000 books and shook as many hands. It was a quick pace, some felt a little too quick, but everyone was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the Republican Presidential candidate, currently polling in second place.
I was fortunate to have a press pass, and setup with the other networks, one from a CBS affiliate in New York. Other local networks were there positioned perfectly for video and photos of the book signing.
As I was getting positioned, I heard a roar at the entrance, and people began clapping and cheering Dr. Carson as he entered the building. Surrounded by Secret Servicemen, Waco police, and other members of the security detail, Dr. Carson walked in, stood behind a podium and immediately began signing books. The people were of all types and backgrounds. White, Black, Hispanic, young, old, middle-aged, men, women, professionals, blue collar, and most noticeable, Christians.
I was close enough to hear the comments from the people to Dr. Carson. They were all extremely polite and respectful. Some were just beside themselves, filled with happiness after meeting him. Others tried to take a quick “selfie” in spite of the director constantly “nudging” them along, “Keep walking, keep the line moving.”
Word was coming back that some were reporting over 1,000 people were in attendance.
The line had wrapped around nearly twice. Parking lots were packed, crowds gathered and talked politics outside, while inside, the line kept flowing.
One woman I remember vividly said, “Oh Dr. Carson, we’ve been praying for someone like you for a long time!”
It was interesting, watching his reaction to the people and their reaction to him. Some made quick funny comments, others were shy and simply shook his hand.
After an hour or so of constantly signing books and shaking hands, one of the Book Tour officials told us Dr. Carson would be taking a break in five minutes and would come and talk to us in the media. We would only have four minutes.
During those five minutes, I kept going through the many questions I had on my mind, and knowing I would only have one opportunity, if any, to get in a question, I wanted it to be something different than typical policy positions and foreign issues. What can one say in such a short period of time anyway?
Dr. Carson put down his pen, the security stopped the line from flowing, and he approached the media line. Instantly, the major networks began asking questions. One about foreign policy, another about statements from other candidates. I couldn’t hear all the questions, but I could tell I needed to be prepared, in case I got the opportunity.
I decided on my question. The man monitoring the time said,”Last question.” I raised my hand and said, “Dr. Carson…” He looked toward me and stepped in my direction. “I’m a big fan of yours and I like what you stand for, but I also like Marco Rubio. How do I decide between the two of you?”
Not knowing whether I could be a “plant” or someone seriously pondering the question, he could tell I was serious and wanted to know. He smiled and said, “Well the good thing is, you still have time to decide. We’ve still got a long way to go, and I think you’ll continue to hear things from the candidates. You’ll be able to tell in your heart. Remember, you don’t have to decide right now.”
With that question and reply, the officials ended the media session and he went back to signing books and meeting supporters. Most of the media packed up as soon as the interviews were over, to go and produce the 10 o’ clock news. I stayed and kept taking pictures, studying Dr. Carson’s interactions with the people.
I observed the people who came to see him. They were honorable, respectful people. I began thinking I was witnessing a true surge of support, the real grass roots.
A bonus was seeing McLennan County Sheriff, Parnell McNamara and his wife Charlotte. They were also there to see Dr. Carson and took time visiting with the constituents. They posed for a few quick pictures with Dr. Carson, and within a few minutes, Carson was escorted out of Barnes & Noble and back onto his tour bus.
There was electricity in the air in Waco, and it wasn’t the Baylor Bear football game, it was created by a Neurosurgeon running for President, Dr. Ben Carson.