Can Ben Carson heal a broken GOP?

When Trump’s name came up during the dinner, which featured speeches from Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Sen. Ted Cruz, heads shook sideways.  Trump’s an “’I’ man.  ‘I.I.I,’” said Shirley Ellison.  “Remember ‘sin’ has a big ‘I’ in the middle of it.  I like that Dr. Carson is not stuck on himself.  He’s stuck on helping people.”

Rela Biagiotti and her husband Tim wore “Carson” stickers, along with two for Cruz and Walker.  Did they wish Trump was there too?  “Not really,” they both said with a shrug.  “I personally just don’t like his demeanor,” said Rela.  “Let’s soften yourself down a little.”

As Trump has pulled away from the rest of the GOP field nationally, with his hurricane of rants, tirades and insults, conservatives have noticed the quiet but steady ascent of Carson. The RealClearPolitics poll average shows Carson solidly in 3rd in the 17-person field, less than one point behind a sinking Jeb Bush.

While Trump had his 20,000-strong crowd in Mobile, last week, Carson drew 12,000 in Phoenix.  No other Republican has come close to those numbers.  Carson also had 2,000 in Durango, Colo. the week before, and 2,000 in Iowa before that. And Carson has done it without taking direct aim at the frontrunner, even leaving the door open to becoming Trump’s vice president.