PALM BEACH GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Dr. Ben Carson came out firing Friday night saying that he did not lie about the West Point scholarship and that he expected scrutiny of his record. The Republican Presidential candidate, who leads in some polls, also made clear he will not back down.
“This is all subterfuge,” Carson said of the allegations first reported in Politico. “Things that happened 45-50 years ago.”
The allegations centered on whether Carson was offered a scholarship to West Point Military Academy. It was an experience Carson wrote about in his autobiography, “Gifted Hands.”
“I never said I got a scholarship,” Carson told reporters. “I had people who said, yes. I could get a scholarship to West Point and I told them that I wasn’t interested, that I was going to pursue medicine.”
But this is how Carson described it to CBS News’ Charlie Rose last month: “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal of Honor dinners.”
Carson said Politico – which first reported the story – got it wrong and that the media is piling on.
“My job is to call you out when you’re being unfair,” Carson said.
But this isn’t the only controversy facing Carson, who was the keynote speaker at an event Friday supporting minority education for the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida.
CNN says it dug into other stories from Carson’s book, where he says he was a violent young man even attacking a family member with a knife, but could not verify any of it.
However, Carson insisted that the events occurred and refused to divulge more details only saying the events transformed him and helped him turn to God.
“It was the transformation for me,” he said. “That’s when I became a person who really understood the power of God in a person’s life.”
He also said he used fictitious names for the stabbing victim who survived and would not give more details.
“If everybody here will sign an affidavit saying that if I reveal the name of the person involved in this stabbing incident, that you will be singing my praises and none of this stuff will ever go on again, I’ll think about it,” he told reporters. “Will you do that? Yes? Yes? Yes, yes, yes?”
Carson spoke briefly about other issues, saying he wants to help heal divisions in the country and is concerned about black on black crime. But for now, the controversies have taken certain stage.
“There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything,” he said.
The question is – how will this affect Carson’s campaign and standing in the polls.
While some of his opponents are taking shots at him and news stories about the controversies continue, Carson believes that the media scrutiny will actually help him with voters.
“My prediction is all you guys trying to pile on is actually going to help me because when I go out to these book signings, I see these thousands of people, they say, “Don’t let the media get you down,'” Carson said.
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