BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson campaigns in Baltimore, where he worked for years at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Carson is meeting with faith and community leaders.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports much of the conversation was about the recent violence in the city.

Faith leaders gather in a prayer of support for retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson, whose run for president will be put to the test here in his home territory Baltimore, where Republicans are but a blip on the political screen.

Long before his presidential announcement Monday, Carson told Denise Koch in a WJZ special report why he’s running as a Republican.

“I was a rabid, left-wing Democrat. I’m running as a Republican because you have to run as something,” said Carson.

And told Denise his decision was influenced by policies on public assistance, which he repeated in his formal announcement.

“I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people,” Carson said.

Against the background of urban upheaval on Baltimore City streets, Carson makes his case for private enterprise over public assistance.

“Fixing our economy so that we once again have the kind of jobs that give people real options. And once that occurs, then I’m talking about withdrawing programs that really won’t be necessary,” he said.

Carson believes that’s a goal we can all share and all benefit from.

Dr. Carson is the Marylander in the Republican primary race. Martin O’Malley, the Democrat, is expected to announce his candidacy by the end of the month.

Dr. Carson is one of six Republicans who have declared their candidacy for president in 2016.

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