SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Dr. Ben Carson, the number two Republican vying for the Presidential nomination behind Donald Trump, came to San Francisco Tuesday, speaking in the bluest city of the bluest state.
During a 75-minute event at the city's Commonwealth Club, Carson answered question after question about his platform, his policies and his climb from poverty to the heights of the medical profession. Carson is a brilliant surgeon, an accomplished businessman, a prolific author and a respected philanthropist.
He comes off as a most affable, humble and decent man, who rose from dire poverty in Detroit to becoming a world renowned brain surgeon, corporate board member and a winner the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In most cases, Carson comes off as a classic, but mainstream Republican conservative who believes in a personal work ethic.
"The person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life, is you," said Carson.
He is a strict fiscal conservative. "First of all, we need to balance the budget," said the candidate.
He's a strict believer in a free-market economy: the freer the better.
"Every single Federal regulation, in addition to complicating people's lives, cost money and that money gets passed on," he said.
For example, he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to work with business and industry, not view them as untrustworthy.
"We have a responsibility to take care of our environment, but we also have a responsibility to take care of our economy," said Carson.
He advocates a flat tax and far lower corporate taxes. "We have an unreasonable taxation system. We need a system that encourages entrepreneurial risk taking and capital investment." says Carson.
Like Trump, he believes in closing the border to illegal newcomers.
"It's ridiculous. It's just an open funnel, so you got to seal that and we can do that," says Carson But. Carson wants those without criminal records already living in the U.S. to register within six months and pay any appropriate back taxes or penalties and stay on.
"What I have suggested is that we allow people to become guest workers," he says.
Dr. Carson suggested support for a minimum wage indexed to something like the cost of living much in the way Social Security is. On the hot button issue of abortion, he flatly opposes it. But on many issues, Carson does not have clear policies, preferring compromise, something very lacking in Washington these days.
"We really, once again, need to sit down, people on both sides, with their grievances, with their solution because we're smart people," says the candidate.
He is proud of his almost exclusively small donation, grassroots fund raising.
"This is not to say that we're not talking to some big-money people, because we are. But we make it clear to them that they're welcome to donate but they're not buying any influence," said Carson.
The audience gave him a standing ovation.
"I thought he covered a lot of very good points about his philosophical stands on many issues and I thought he handled himself very well. I was very impressed," said Henry Branson, a white man who attended.
"I thought he did a good job, I though he did a good job. Ah, I won't vote for him but I certainly wanted to hear what he had to say," said Keith Powell, an African American who attended.
In a press conference afterward, I asked him a very pointed question. As a medical doctor who swore an oath to "do no harm" and where all life is worth preserving, how could he square that with sending soldiers to certain deaths in future conflicts?
"As a surgeon, when somebody has a tumor that compressing a vital area of the brain. I actually have to go in and cut them. Now that doesn't seem like a nice thing to do. I have to open their head up to go in there and I have to expose them to danger. But the long term goal is to preserve their life. And, when we look at something like the global Jihadist movement and their goals, the sooner we eradicate them, the less damage they can do. I you lave that tumor there, it's going to kill you." said Carson.
Though still in second place, Carson is gaining on Trump in the polls.