Ben Carson in Mount Pleasant: Focus on other GOP candidates ‘quite beneficial for us’

Dr. Ben Carson discusses his meeting with Shem Creek developers and the problems with government intrusion on the private sector during a press conference Wednesday at Red’s Ice House in Mount Pleasant.

Ben Carson may have finished last among his top GOP contenders in New Hampshire, but he said Wednesday that he expects “to do extremely well” in South Carolina.

“The next step for us is to flourish, grow, to create excitement and enthusiasm, to be able to get our voices heard because when people hear us, they understand,” he said at a Mount Pleasant appearance. “But there has been a tendency to try to shift focus on certain people. That actually is going to be quite beneficial for us and we are going be very active here in South Carolina.”

Carson spoke briefly at Red’s Ice House in the afternoon after a meeting with Shem Creek Development Group LLC and one of the owners of the restaurant, Cecil Crowley.

The presidential contender used the heated, ongoing battle over the development of an office building with parking on the first floors as an example of what’s wrong with big government.

“I’m very pleased whenever I see Americans citizens who are activated to protect all of our rights,” Carson said. “This is a situation where we have a city council who wants to come in and use something as arbitrary as eminent domain to displace established businesses, and that would probably have a devastating effect.”

Council members have denied it, but signs point to the possibility that the town would actually consider using eminent domain to stop the project, even though construction has already started. Town staff was told earlier this month to look at the costs of appraising properties around Shem Creek, including long-standing businesses.

Carson said that when eminent domain is used, it is supposed to be for the greater good of the community, which doesn’t appear to be the case in Mount Pleasant.

“What it is, is a situation where government insinuates itself into the affairs of private citizens unnecessarily and creates havoc,” he said. “The very thing that we need to stop in this country.”

Crowley was impressed with Carson’s attention to their dilemma.

“I think he listened to everything that we said,” he said of the meeting. “To us, this is just an overreach.”

Tyler Flesch, a developer with the group, said they could not be more grateful that Carson chose the project as a talking point.

Just before the meeting, Carly Fiorina announced that she was ending her Republican bid for president. Carson said he was surprised and complimented her, saying that knew her for more than 20 years. He added that, “of course,” he would welcome her backing and votes.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.