Ben Carson makes 3 local stops as support grows

Ben Carson stepped off his tour bus in Lakeland to cheers of hundreds, and signed 1,800 books in less than three hours.

"It was awesome, but it was really fast," said Jillian Castro of Lakeland.

Carson has tripled his national support since August. He's leading in Iowa, and is making a play for Florida, where a new poll shows he's in second to Donald Trump.

We asked if he could win without winning Florida.

"All things are possible, but I would prefer to have Florida," he said. "I think there is a good chance."

Interviews with those getting Carson's autograph said he presented himself as a humbler version of Donald Trump.

He's political outsider who talks frequently of God and being a doctor.

"We need someone that has not been in the Washington circle," said David Broxterman.

"Carson is a little more sincere. It comes from his heart," said Denise Varney of Haines City.

The sincerity, or blunt talk, or anti-political correctness, is on the wish-list of Republican primary voters.

"Political correctness is non-existent in my house," said Broxterman. "We call things for what we see them."

Yet some of the things Carson has said may dog him as focus intensifies.

He has compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery, and has insisted that the Holocaust could have been staved off if Jews in Germany were armed.

"I think he is just being honest," said Castro. "He doesn't care about politically correctness stuff. He is just speaking from the heart."

Carson spent Tuesday in Clearwater, Tampa and Lakeland absorbing his new role as poll leader.

He was asked how he'd do against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

"I hope we have a chance to find out," he said. "I suspect that it would be the most clear-cut election in the history of the United States."