GOP Hopeful: Bruce Jenner Welcome to Campaign with Me

05/14/2015 04:28 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2016

In a recent and widely seen interview with Diane Sawyer about his transition to womanhood, Bruce Jenner surprised many people with the admission that he is also a Republican. At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, 2016 GOP hopeful Ben Carson was asked if he would campaign with Jenner if he expressed support for Carson's presidential bid. The former pediatric neurosurgeon replied that all Americans are welcome.

The Republican Party has not been particularly accepting of the LGBT community -- Carson himself opposes gay marriage, for example -- so his answer raises some questions.

From the look on his face, perhaps Carson did not realize who Bruce Jenner is? If that's the case, how does Carson not know? Beyond his fame as the Kardashian patriarch and the white-hot media speculation over his gender transition, Jenner is an American Olympic hero, having won the gold medal for the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games. Has Carson been living under a rock?

On the other hand, if Carson does know who Jenner is, then welcoming him is an opportunity to differentiate himself from the crowded 2016 field as a social conservative who is also open-minded. Will other GOP hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush follow Carson's lead?

Republicans like to talk about being a "big-tent" party. Jenner is their chance to prove it.

(Jenner prefers masculine pronouns and to be called by Bruce.)