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Carson tapped to speak at major conservative political conference

Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson will speak at a prominent conservative political rally next month, alongside the likes of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, the American Conservative Union said Wednesday.

Carson "represents the optimism and hope of the future of the conservative moment," union Chairman Al Cardenas said in a statement announcing Carson's invitation.

Carson will be among more than two dozen speakers at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, to be held March 14-16 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Prince George's County.

Carson has become a darling of conservative commentators since giving the keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month. In the speech, he focused largely on a need for bipartisan cooperation and independent political thought, but also criticized President Barack Obama's health care and tax policies with the president seated just two chairs from the lectern.

He has served as director of Hopkins' department of pediatric neurosurgery for nearly 30 years, was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins, and has authored several best-selling books.

Carson told The Baltimore Sun he was surprised by the strong reaction to his comments at the prayer breakfast and that he has no plans to run for office, but that he would consider it if he felt God compel him to.

The theme of the event is "America's Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives; New Challenges, Timeless Principles."

Other speakers, aside from Palin and Ryan, include many prominent names in conservative politics: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; former South Carolina senator and Heritage Foundation President-Elect Jim DeMint; former business executive and California gubernatorial candidate Carly Fiorina; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; U.S. Sen. Rand Paul; and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

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