Meet-and-greet draws a crowd of nearly 300
By Sarah Stubbs
Presidential hopeful Ben Carson made a pit stop at the Pilgrim Family Restaurant in Findlay and addressed nearly 300 supporters on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 23 on his way to a rally in Arbor Spring, Michigan.
Rumors about the supposed meet-and-greet were discussed on Twitter by Courier employees in the afternoon the day before, and were quickly met with confirmation by Carson’s campaign that Carson would indeed be stopping at the Pilgrim Family Restaurant.
At the meet-and-greet, supporters gathered inside and outside the restaurant.
Carson’s campaign tour bus parked on West Main Cross, Carson stepped out, made his way through the crowd while shaking hands and signing books, then addressed the crowd inside about his stances on several issues – namely religion and government spending, and addressed the crowd outside about the same topics.
Recently, Carson has been under scrutiny for his statement: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”
He immediately addressed this to the Findlay supporters and said early in his speech, “I don’t care what they say, this country has a Judeo-Christian foundation.”
This statement in particular drew a favorable response from the Findlay crowd.
Findlay community members were not the only Carson supporters at the meet-and-greet. There was a small crowd of University of Findlay students, but not many.
Three UF students in attendance were juniors Jenna Irwin, Logan Harrah, and AJ Cecil.
Irwin and Harrah both agreed that there wasn’t much publicized about the event, and that is why they think they were among the few UF students who decided to show.
“I don’t think many people knew about this event in the first place. We weren’t sure if he was actually going to show up or not, but we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to meet a presidential candidate,” Harrah said.
The Courier reported that the Pilgrim Family Restaurant owner was unaware of the stop, too, until Sept. 22 afternoon.
Irwin said that she thinks college students typically don’t care too much about politics, and that might be another reason why there weren’t many Oilers in attendance.
“I think a lot of college students aren’t interested in politics and they think that they don’t have time to care about things going on in the world,” Irwin said.
Since the event was a more casual meet-and-greet and less of a formal Q&A session, Carson only answered a select few questions from press and supporters.
The Pulse asked Carson what he thought was wrong with the idea of the free, public college that some of his liberal competitors, like Bernie Sanders, promote.
Carson said, “We don’t have the money. That simple.”
Irwin found much of what Carson had to say refreshing because she thought he spoke in “realistic” terms.
“I like the fact that he told us to research ‘fiscal gap.’ He wasn’t just saying the things that everyone wanted to hear. He was telling the crowd to be educated,” Irwin said. “Carson didn’t say that he was going to cut taxes or give free education because our country is already in debt.”
One community member shouted out the question: “Dr. Carson, do you feel that your lack of experience in politics will be problem?”
Although, Carson did mention in his opening remarks that he never thought he would be in this position after “having a long and arduous career in medicine and neurosurgery.” He replied flatly that no, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Also in his opening remarks were his thoughts on political correctness.
“When it comes to quality of life for the next generation, it’s not going to be there unless we do something right now. We need to stop giving away our values and principles for the sake of political correctness,” Carson said.
Even though he is not set on whether or not he thinks Carson is the best Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election, Harrah is simply glad he showed.
“Having the chance to shake hands with Ben Carson and greet him really made this event worthwhile,” Harrah said.
Irwin said she was impressed with the amount of dedicated Carson supporters in attendance at such a last-minute event.
“All three of us got to shake his hand, which was great, but then we watched a woman hug him and cling to him like he solved all of her problems. It was interesting to see someone who obviously greatly believed in him and all of his statements,” Irwin said.