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What does Ben Carson believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues

BY   May 3, 2015 at 11:22 PM EDT  | Updated: Jul 2, 2015 at 1:18 AM
Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland February 26, 2015. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. The neurosurgeon said Sunday he will seek the GOP nomination for the White House. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

He is a pioneering brain surgeon and the holder of high accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2008), the designation as a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress (2001) and five dozen honorary degrees. Ben Carson credits his mother for his education and the Bible for steering him away from violence. He is a Detroit native, a bestselling author and a Washington Times columnist. He’s also impressed the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Here is where Carson stands on 10 key issues.

Climate change: The climate change debate is “irrelevant.” Temperature change is cyclical.

Carson is not convinced that global warming is a threat or a proven trend. In an interview in November, he said, “there’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and called the climate debate “irrelevant.” The physician said it is a distraction from discussions about generally protecting the environment and about the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in regulation.

Education: No federally-determined standards. We need more school choice.

Carson told conservatives gathered at CPAC that “Common Core is not school choice,” and that public schools “don’t need some central government telling them” how to compete. The physician said he does believe in standards, but does not want a federal or central entity to set them. He supports vouchers and charter schools and has said that students who learn in home schools, private schools or charter schools outperform those taught in traditional public schools.

Watch the PBS NewsHour Democratic Primary Debate, 9 p.m. EST Feb. 11, on your local PBS station, and in our live stream, which will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Guns: Few limits on ownership except for the mentally ill or those convicted of violent crime.

A physician who has operated on gun-wound victims, Carson has said he wants to keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally ill, especially in urban settings. Otherwise, he wants to give Americans as much access as possible to the weapons and argues that gun ownership is an important right and protection.

Health care: Replace the Affordable Care Act with health savings accounts.

In a 2013 Washington Times column, Carson proposed that the federal government give each American $2000 in a health savings account annually. Individuals could contribute an unlimited amount to their own accounts and also could transfer the money to other family members. He has written that the Affordable Care Act has helped some of the uninsured but at a high cost to others and to the health care system in general.

Immigration: Allow undocumented residents access to a national guest worker program if they leave the country first.

Carson’s immigration position is best laid-out in his 2014 National Journal Op-Ed, which proposes a national guest worker program. Under that plan, Carson would allow those in the U.S. illegally to apply for guest worker status if they leave the country and then show they have a guaranteed job awaiting them upon to return to the U.S. In addition, Carson would increase penalties on employers and others who break immigration rules.

Marijuana: There are some benefits to medical marijuana. Legalizing for recreational purpose raises concern.

The neurosurgeon told FOX News in 2014 that he sees some benefits to use of marijuana for medical purpose, but that he is concerned about state or national moves to legalize the drug for recreational use. He called the substance a “gateway drug” and said that easier access could harm society.

Social issues: The Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage is the law of the land. Ban most abortions after 20 weeks.

In a statement issued after the Supreme Court ruling, Carson wrote that he disagrees with the decision to legalize same-sex marriage but that it is now the law of the land. The physician previously has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

On his website, Carson supports the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would make it illegal to have an abortion more than 20 weeks after fertilization, allowing exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. It is not clear if he would push to overturn or uphold Roe v Wade.

Taxes: Establish a flat tax. Eliminate the IRS.

Writing in the Washington Times in 2013, Carson advocated a “proportional” or flat tax system in which every American would pay the same rate. He would eliminate corporate loopholes and also eliminate policies sheltering the poor from having to pay taxes. Such a system, he argued, would make the IRS unnecessary.

Iran and Israel: Congress must be involved in Iran deal. U.S. should listen to and consider Netanyahu’s words.

In his CPAC remarks this year, Carson expressed concern that the Shia-led government in Iran may be more dangerous than the Islamic State militant group. On CNN, he was critical of President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, saying Congress needed a strong role in the process. On Israel, Carson has said the U.S. must staunchly back its ally. He supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Islamic State: The U.S. should step up its efforts to destroy the Islamic State militant group. Do not “tie” the military’s hands.

In February, Carson said America must step up its leadership in the effort to combat Islamic State. At CPAC, Carson said he would order the military to destroy the group and would not “tie (the military’s) hands.”

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