Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, riding a wave of goodwill following the first Republican debate, needed to change venues for an event today in Phoenix to accommodate a surge in attendance. Carson was originally slated to speak in a church that can hold 2,300, but now the event is moving to a location that can seat more than 6,000 people.
The increased demand is reflective of his overall performance in the Republican field since the Aug. 6 debate, when he pulled together a strong showing in the final minutes of the event. On the day of the debate, a Real Clear Politics average of national polls in the primary field ranked Carson fourth with just 5.8 percent of the vote. In the weeks since, he has surged to 9.7 percent and is within 1 percentage point of overtaking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for second place behind Donald Trump. Other non-averaged polls rank Carson as No. 2 in the field.
"We think that’s partly because since the debate, a lot more people have become aware of Dr. Carson and his message," senior campaign strategist Ed Brookover told the Arizona Republic when asked about the demand for a bigger venue in Phoenix. "What you want is to get the chance for people to hear you."
— Jordan Golson (@jlgolson) August 18, 2015
The former neurosurgeon delivered a memorable quip in his closing remarks after what many felt was a somewhat forgettable debate performance. The joke pointed out succinctly that he is not a career politician, a quality that seems to be highly favored in national politics this primary season.
"I haven't said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that." Carson said. "[I'm] the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it."
The second debate, which will focus on foreign policy, is slated to take place on Sept. 16. CNN will moderate the event.