Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has gone on the defensive against CNN after they published an article that questions whether stories he has told of overcoming violence in his youth are true (video below).
In Carson’s 1990 autobiography, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” he describes acts of violence he committed, according to CNN. In the book, he claims these acts stemmed from a “pathological temper."
The violent episodes included in the book, and told during public statements and in interviews, include punching a classmate in the face with his hand wrapped around a lock, leaving a bloody 3-inch gash in the boy’s forehead, attempting to attack his mother with a hammer following an argument, hurling a large rock at a boy, breaking the boy's glasses and smashing his nose, and thrusting a knife at the belly of his friend so hard that the blade snapped against the person's belt buckle.
The problem is that when CNN interviewed nine friends, classmates and neighbors who grew up with Carson, none of them recalled the anger or violence he has described.
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All of the people interviewed reportedly expressed surprise about Carson’s stories.
"I don't know nothing about that," Gerald Ware, a classmate of Carson’s at Detroit's Southwestern High School, said about the violence. "It would have been all over the whole school."
CNN’s attempts to independently confirm any of the incidents Carson said happened when he was a juvenile were unsuccessful. The stories were also not disproved by any of the interviewees.
Carson’s campaign adviser and business manager, Armstrong Williams, declined repeated requests by CNN to elaborate on the incidents, including the identities of his alleged victims and witnesses, or to provide any information on disciplinary actions that resulted from them.
"Why would anyone cooperate with your obvious witch hunt?" Williams wrote in an email to CNN. "No comment and moving on ... Happy Halloween!!!!!"
Carson did comment on the CNN story during an interview Nov. 5 on Fox News' “The Kelly File” with host Megyn Kelly.
“You know, I’m 100 percent sure that they’re true,” Carson told Kelly of the stories. "This is simply an attempt to smear and deflect the argument to something else … I never use the true names of people in books, you know, to protect the innocent … That is something that is commonly done.”
Carson said he spoke with the person he allegedly tried to stab the day and asked if they would be open to revealing their identity to corroborate the story. Carson said the person does not want to be publicly known.
“The media is ruthless,” Carson said. "So, you know, I would say to the people of America — do you think I’m a pathological liar like CNN does? Or do you think I’m an honest person? I’m going to leave that up to the American people to make that decision.”
Carson also took to Facebook on Nov. 4 to address accusations that he is not qualified to be president given his lack of political experience:
“I do not have political experience, I have a life journey. A journey that not only made it possible for me to relate to so many different people, but also one where time and time again I was told I would fail, only to succeed. My candidacy is different, that I grant you. I have neither Donald Trump’s money or Jeb Bush’s political network. However, I wouldn't trade a single child I treated for all of Trump’s money. While I admire the Bush family’s dedication to service, I too served — nights, weekends, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries with severely injured patients were my public service.
“What I have is a lifetime of caring, integrity and honesty. I have experienced the American Dream. No where in the world, other than America, could a man whose ancestors were slaves, rise to become a leading brain surgeon and one day seek the Office of President.
“The very fact that I am running is testament to the greatness of America. If all you want is political experience then I cannot be your candidate.”
In the latest Fox News poll on the GOP presidential race, Carson was in second place with 23 percent support; Donald Trump held the top spot with 26 percent. The figures were close to the CNN/ORC Iowa poll released on Nov. 6, in which Carson had 23 percent of the votes and Trump 25 percent.