Elections

Controvery simmers over Carson and West Point

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson shakes hands with a supporter during a book signing at the Lauderdale Barnes and Noble on Thursday.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson shakes hands with a supporter during a book signing at the Lauderdale Barnes and Noble on Thursday. TNS

Ben Carson’s campaign Friday said he was not offered a scholarship to West Point, as he had claimed, according to the Associated Press.

“I guess it could have been more clarified," Carson told Fox News to be broadcast Friday night. "I told it as I understood it."

The controversy is the latest in a series of questions Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who’s vaulted to the top of some presidential polls, has had to face. He’s had to explain a series of controversial statements, including whether he in fact engaged in violent behavior while a young teenager.

Carson wrote in his book, “Gifted Hands,” that at age 17 he was introduced to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had been in charge of American forces in Vietnam. Afterward, Carson said, he was offered a full scholarship.

According to Politico, Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy, said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even started the process of applying.

Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, said in an email to Politico, that “Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit.”

Bennett said that in that role, he was invited to meet with Westmoreland.

Carson “can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”

Bennett said he was introduced to people from the military academy by his ROTC supervisors, and they said they could help get him in based on his ROTC grades and performance.

“He considered it but in the end did not seek admission,” Bennett said.

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

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