Politics

Donald Trump: Ben Carson Is 'Going To Have To Explain A Lot Of Things'

| by Jared Keever
Donald Trump Behind MicrophonesDonald Trump Behind Microphones

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had a good deal to say recently about fellow GOP contender Ben Carson’s trouble in the press. 

As various news outlets, including CNN and the Wall Street Journal, began reporting that they were not able to verify certain anecdotes in Carson’s autobiography “Gifted Hands,” Trump spoke to four Sunday morning talk shows on Nov. 8 to weigh in, Bloomberg reports.

“I feel badly for Ben, I've gotten to like Ben, it's a tough thing," Trump told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Carson is “going to have to explain a lot of things away: the scholarship situation, the dinner with [General William] Westmoreland when Westmoreland wasn't there,” Trump added. 

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Trump was referring to the, now-disputed, claims from Carson’s book that Carson turned down a West Point scholarship offer and that he had dinner with Westmoreland in Carson’s hometown of Detroit on Memorial Day in 1969.

Carson also took to the Sunday talk shows on Nov. 8 to tell his side of the story.

Carson brushed off much of the criticism during an interview with NBC's "Meet The Press."

Of the Westmoreland controversy he said: “Well, I know he was there in Detroit and I know there were congressional men around him. It may not have been Memorial Day, but it was sometime during the time when I was the city executive officer.”

As for the West Point controversy, Carson’s campaign has since clarified the story, saying that Carson never formally applied nor was he admitted to the military academy — which doesn’t give out scholarships because students attend in exchange for military service — but that he had been invited to apply by a ROTC officer.

Doug Watts, the communications director for Carson’s campaign, said in a Nov. 6 interview with ABC News that military commanders in Detroit had told Carson they would “take care of” his admission to the academy.

“Maybe the words are inaccurate, but that fact that you’re offered a chance to attend one of the military academies, you are in effect getting a scholarship because nobody pays a dime,” Watts said. 

As for the controversies, Carson told NBC that the scrutiny his life story is being subjected to goes beyond the typical vetting of a political candidate. 

“I have always said that I expect to be vetted,” he told the news station. “But being vetted and what is going on with me, ‘You said this 30 years ago, you said this 20 years ago, this didn't exist, this didn’t.' You know, I just, I have not seen that with anyone else.”

Carson added that he thinks the scrutiny is because he is a threat to the “secular progressive movement” in the United States. 

“I'm a very big threat because they can look at the polling data and they can see that I'm the candidate who's most likely to be able to beat Hillary Clinton,” he said. “They see that.”

On ABC's "This Week," Carson told host George Stephanopoulos that inaccuracies in his stories don’t amount to lies and that no one can be expected to be completely accurate when it comes to 40-year-old stories. 

“Well, show me somebody, even from your business, the media, who is 100 percent accurate in everything that they say that happened 40 or 50 years ago,” Carson said. “Please show me that person, because I will sit at their knee and I will learn from them.”

Sources: Bloomberg, NBC News (2), ABC News (2) / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Marc Nozell/Flickr