Carson draws crowds, bashes media in visits to Knoxville, Chattanooga

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson drew large crowds, sold a lot of books and criticized national media at campaign/book-signing events in Knoxville and Chattanooga Sunday.

On the Knoxville event, from the News Sentinel:

Dr. Ben Carson, one of the GOP front-runners in a crowded field vying for the 2016 presidential nomination, was greeted by more than 2,000 enthusiastic fans Sunday at a packed Books-A-Million on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville.

“He’s easy-going, he speaks the truth and he’s a super guy,” said 86-year-old Robert Kenchel of Sevierville.

Carson was in town to promote his book, “A More Perfect Union,” which chronicles ways for Americans to reclaim their constitutional liberties. Customers who bought copies of his books from the store were able to get their books autographed by Carson during a meet-and-greet that featured selfies galore.

The crowd erupted with wild cheers as Carson entered the store with his entourage.

Carson said it’s a scene he has become familiar with on his 2015 national book tour.

“It’s the same every place,” the easy-going Carson said. “People, I think, are very excited about somebody who talks about common sense.”

Carson, 64, dismissed recent criticism of his response to the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon after he said that he would have gone down fighting.

Likewise, he said the media blew out of proportion his statement that if the German people had been armed they could have prevented the Holocaust.

“I don’t think any of the comments I’ve made are anything other than common sense,” he said.

In Chattanooga, reports the Times-Free Press, Barnes and Noble sold out of Carson’s book, and a line wrapped around the building full of Carson supporters waiting to get a moment with the man who was second behind Donald Trump in the most recent GOP polls.

…A group of student journalists from Southern Adventist University, which is a Seventh-day Adventist school in Collegedale, covered the event for SAU’s student newspaper, the Southern Accent. Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist.

“Something like this,” said one Accent staff member, “it’s a big deal for us.”

Detractors have pointed to Carson’s lack of political experience and, with his rise in prominence, the 64-year-old Yale graduate has been subject to greater scrutiny from media in recent weeks.

Carson told local reporters that many of the people who he met during the afternoon encouraged him to tune out negative media attention.

“I think people are starting to realize,” Carson said, “that it’s you guys [the media] that are the problem.”

Regarding President Barack Obama’s proposed America’s College Promise, a plan inspired by Tennessee Promise that would give students two free years of community college education, Carson said he does not like national education programs.

“I like things that are done at the local level,” he said. “It seems to work much better. You want the control to be in the hands of those people.”

Note: Meanwhile, Carson has scheduled another trip to Williamson County, the Tennessean notes: The “coffee and conversation” with Carson is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 31 at the home of Franklin Mayor Ken Moore. Moore led Carson on a tour of Franklin at the end of August, where the former surgeons appeared to bond.