Weeks after former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton formally announced her intention to run for President in 2016, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have joined the race: a retired neurosurgeon and a former CEO of HP. The election will determine who moves into the White House after President Barrack Obama leaves office.
Here are five things you should know about these two Republican presidential candidates.
- He grew up poor, and was a poor student and quick-tempered
Benjamin Solomon Carson was raised in Detroit by his single mother. Carson’s mom would make ends meet cleaning houses and other low-wage work and she was determined to make education a priority for her boys.
Carson did not start out a model student. He got poor marks early in school and some of his classmates would call him “dummy.” Carson also had a quick temper and once tried to stab someone with a camping knife during his youth.
- He was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Hopkins
In 1984, when he was 33 years old, Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. At the time, he was the youngest doctor in America to hold such a position.
- He’s an accomplished author and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient
Carson’s life story, from growing up a poor kid in inner-city Detroit to becoming a groundbreaking neurosurgeon, was documented in his autobiography Gifted Hands. He has gone on to write other books since then, including a New York Times best-seller, One Nation, in 2014.
Bush honored Carson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the highest award given to a civilian. Carson was reportedly notified he was a recipient of the award while performing a seven-hour surgery.
- He gave a famous 2013 National Prayer Breakfast speech
At an event that is typically apolitical, Carson delivered a sharp critique of President Obama’s tax policies and implementation of his signature health care law. While Carson never referenced the health care law or the president by name, President Obama was sitting only a few feet away.
- He has never held or run for public office
Despite never running for or holding public office, Carson remains a darling among certain segments of the conservative base, particularly those who tilt toward the Tea Party. He is one of the most sought-after conservative speakers in the country.
- She’s a law school dropout
After she got her undergraduate degree from Stanford (in medieval history and philosophy), Fiorina’s father, a federal appeals court judge, suggested his daughter go to law school. Fiorina did, but said studying law gave her “blinding headaches every day” so she dropped out after a semester. Not to worry, she does have graduate business degrees from Maryland and MIT.
- She started her career as a temp
Fiorina says one of her first jobs was with temporary agency Kelly Services, whose workers, mostly women, were dubbed “Kelly girls.” She also worked secretarial positions while in college, including a stint filing and typing for Hewlett-Packard, the tech company she would eventually lead.
- She is a cancer survivor
Fiorina was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and underwent a double mastectomy. At campaign appearances, women often come up to her to say they, too, are cancer survivors. “It’s a sisterhood,” she says.
- Her husband was a tow truck driver
Much like Fiorina, her husband, Frank Fiorina, started off small, driving a tow truck for a family-owned body shop. He eventually became an executive at AT&T.
- She ran one of the most (in)famous campaign ads ever
In 2010, while running for the U.S. Senate, Fiorina ran an ad that showed a flock of sheep grazing peacefully in a pasture, when suddenly one is shown with scary red eyes. The narrator says Fiorina’s opponent, Tom Campbell, was not a true conservative — “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The spot came to be known as the demon sheep ad.
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