The spotlight rarely found Ben Carson this summer. While other presidential candidates shot flaming arrows at rivals and sometimes the news media, the soft-spoken Mr. Carson seemed to struggle to be noticed. “Well, thank you,” he told moderators in the first Republican debate. “I wasn’t sure if I would get to speak again.”
But while almost all Republicans were upstaged by the bombast of Donald J. Trump in recent months, Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon whose low-key personality and celebrated medical career are the antithesis of a politician’s usual path, has gained ground as few seemed to notice.
A recent Quinnipiac University national poll placed him in second place in the Republican field, and a Monmouth University survey of Iowa Republicans released on Monday had him tied with Mr. Trump. Another Iowa poll, by The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, had the two candidates running closely within the poll’s margin of sampling error.
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Carson has never held elected office, a quality that seems particularly prized by Republican voters this year. More than 90 percent of voters in the Register/Bloomberg poll conducted, last week, said they were unsatisfied or “mad as hell” with government and politicians.

Interactive Feature | What Ben Carson Would Need to Do to Win Ben Carson has entered the race for the Republican nomination for president. Here is a look at what he will need to do if he hopes to win.

And yet, in almost every other way, Mr. Carson is Mr. Trump’s opposite. He is almost professorial, where Mr. Trump is loud, combative and unfiltered.
“At the end of the day, I attribute it to the power of nice,” said Rob Taylor, a chairman of Mr. Carson’s campaign in Iowa, reflecting on the rise of his candidate.
Mr. Carson has worked hard to tame his habit of making highly provocative statements, often on homosexuality, a move that advisers said had saved his campaign after it nearly derailed amid negative early headlines. They predicted that Mr. Trump’s own tendency toward such statements, whether directed at illegal immigrants or in personal attacks on Twitter, could undermine his headline-grabbing run.
“We’ve been there and realize no matter how much the base will love you for it, people will not think it’ …Read More