Campaign 2016 begins: Ben Carson to air 40-minute "introduction" ad in 22 states this weekend

Important news for two reasons. One: ABC is right. This really is the unofficial start to the next election.

Two: Given how well Carson’s polling in Iowa at this very, very, very, very early stage, he might just be the grassroots stalking horse President Romney needs to beat back more formidable conservatives like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

That should be worth an appointment to surgeon general in the Romney administration, if you ask me.

Carson, a famous pediatric neurosurgeon and conservative political star, will air a nearly 40 minute-long ad introducing himself to the American people this weekend, an aide to Carson confirms to ABC News.

The documentary titled “A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America” will air in 22 states and Washington, DC. The paid video will detail some of his biography and family life, including his rise from being born to a single mother with a poor childhood in Detroit to director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins for almost 40 years, known for his work separating conjoined twins, to potential 2016 presidential candidate…

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll from last month of the potential 2016 presidential candidates showed Carson in seventh place garnering seven percent of the vote after other notables including Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio.

Carson has a grassroots effort to draft him for a 2016 presidential run that has raised millions for the effort.

It’ll air Sunday after the morning chat shows or NFL games, depending upon the state. ABC’s not kidding about his fans raising millions either: As of mid-October, the Draft Ben Carson for President PAC had drawn $10.6 million in donations, among the biggest hauls of any PAC this year. And they didn’t do it with mega-millions gifted to them by billionaires; 90 percent of their haul came from small donors. A lot of blog readers seem to be in eyeroll mode about a Carson candidacy right now, preferring more seasoned pols like Cruz and Paul, but there are people out there who like him. And there’s plenty of room for him to impress at the debates. Voters are expecting a vanity candidacy run by a famous neurosurgeon, but if he walks out there and shows some policy know-how, he’ll be taken seriously as a politician by some righties who are looking for an outside-the-box choice. His effect on Iowa if he sticks this out won’t be zero, I think, especially with voters in torches-and-pitchforks mode for Beltway types.

Here’s the man himself formally changing his party registration from independent to Republican this past week, in case there was any lingering doubt that he’s serious about this.