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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Ben Carson is such an unconventional candidate, it's hard to tell sometimes if he's running a real presidential campaign.

The renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, a quasi-celebrity since retiring from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, at times adds to that impression with peculiar moves — like piggybacking a national tour to promote his latest book on top of his existing 2016 campaign schedule. The odd pairing forced Carson to spend several days fending off accusations that his presidential bid was but a front for selling books and padding his personal bank account.

So it might surprise some Republicans to find out that Carson's campaign headquarters, perched adjacent to Washington in Northern Virginia, has all the hallmarks of a traditional candidate who is serious about winning the White House. Carson occupies 2,100 square feet, spread across two separate suites of barebones appointed offices that are situated above Joe Theismann's Restaurant in a nondescript office building in Alexandria. On a recent Monday, the joint was humming with activity.

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