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Shifted Hands, Veepstakes Edition: Ben Carson Generates VP Buzz

Ben Carson: Shifted Hands. Former HUD Secretary Generates VP Buzz.

Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and former secretary of housing and urban development (HUD) in the Donald Trump presidential administration, has returned to the spotlight amid rumors of his becoming Trump’s 2024 running mate. Additionally, speaking at the People’s Convention and recently publishing The Perilous Flight has renewed discussion of Carson’s future in politics. 

The New York Times suggested that talk of Carson as a prospective Republican vice presidential nominee makes sense given his friendship with Trump. In a recent interview, Trump stated that his favored potential running mate was one of “many people that would do a really fantastic job.” And while speaking at the Black Conservative Federation Gala in South Carolina this February, Trump called Carson “a great friend of mine” after recounting an anecdote from his 2016 campaign where, before a debate, Carson told him, “You have nothing to worry about. God put you in this position. You’re going to win.” At the same event, Trump commended Carson for experiencing “no scandal” while in Trump’s cabinet. 

Trump’s praise notwithstanding, Carson received scrutiny while serving as HUD secretary after his department’s deputy general counsel for operations wrote a memo questioning the involvement of Carson’s family in organizing his Baltimore “listening tour.” Then, in 2018, Carson delayed enforcement of an Obama-era fair housing rule until 2020, resulting in a lawsuit filed against HUD. 

According to the Times, Carson is still an unlikely candidate for Trump’s running mate, despite their friendship. However, “in the wide universe of unlikely but he-just-might-do-it picks, Mr. Carson is probably the leading contender.” Some of Trump’s reported top candidates include Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota, Marco Rubio, Republican Florida senator, and J. D. Vance, Republican Ohio senator.

Carson and Trump recently attended the People’s Convention in partnership with Turning Point Action in Detroit, Michigan. Turning Point Action is the campaign arm of Turning Point USA, a right-wing nonprofit led by activist Charlie Kirk that aims to mobilize students. At the event on June 15, Trump gave a speech for a general session hours after Carson was interviewed by Kirk. 

Kirk began the interview by describing Carson as “one of the most impressive and important Americans alive today.” When mentioning his hometown of Detroit, Carson praised its citizens, declaring that many of them are “hard-working, God-fearing Americans,” a type of people who he alleges used to be celebrated but are now denigrated by a “faction” of the United States. 

Carson explored the idea of the “common good” and said people’s belief in it was fundamental to the success of the early United States, an aspect also addressed in his new book. “That is the thing that is so attractive about Donald Trump,” he said. “He recognizes that a rising tide lifts all boats.” 

Carson also titled Trump “not your typical politician” in response to a question about the former president’s visits to the Bronx and downtown Detroit. “Americans are a lot smarter than the news media and the leftists think they are,” he said. “They recognize that if we allow the leftists to succeed in using our justice system to prosecute and persecute their political opponent … we will not have the United States of America anymore, we will have the United States of banana republic.” 

“How can a country like ours have a leader who can barely find his way off the stage?” Carson questioned the crowd. He compared Trump and current President Joe Biden by likening Trump to a skilled surgeon with poor bedside manners and Biden to a surgeon who “had great bedside manners and killed everybody.” 

After further critiquing Biden’s presidency, Carson added, “We have a lot to be concerned about, but we have an ace in the hole—God.” His interview concluded with statements regarding his experiences while touring college campuses. He stated that young people see the need for a “course correction” and claimed that before a country implements a “Marxist regimen,” they “dumb down the population,” which he believes is happening presently. 

“We don’t want Marxism. We don’t want the government taking care of us from cradle to grave. This is America; we want to take care of ourselves, and we want to do it with our own principles,” Carson concluded. 

Despite Carson currently promoting Trump and their apparent friendship, the pair ran against each other in the 2016 presidential election and debated over their respective religious denominations. While referencing Carson at a Florida rally in 2015, Trump questioned his competitor’s faith community. “I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about,” he said. Trump asserted that he was Presbyterian, a denomination he called “middle of the road.” Shortly after Trump’s comment, Carson said in an interview with The Associated Press that he was not surprised by Trump turning attention to his faith and that his relationship with God was “the most important aspect. It’s not really denomination specific.” Carson also criticized the decision against women’s ordination at the 2015 General Conference Session, saying, “I don’t see any reason why women can’t be ordained.” Yet after discussing moments of doubt regarding the church, Carson reaffirmed his Adventist faith. 

In 2021, Carson aligned himself with the Liberty and Health Alliance, a nonprofit founded by Adventists that advocates against COVID-19 vaccines and organizes free health clinics. He spoke against vaccine mandates during a live event where the organization released an appeal for the Adventist Church to defend “liberty of conscience” by supporting religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccination mandates. He also gave a speech for the organization in May 2022. 

Carson has promoted other COVID-19 beliefs that go against mainstream medical recommendations. According to The Washington Post, when Carson had COVID-19 in 2020, he took oleandrin, an extract of the poisonous oleander plant. He recalled hearing about the treatment—which was rejected for supplement use by the Food and Drug Administration—from Mike Lindell, My Pillow chief executive officer and promotor of false voter fraud conspiracies following the 2020 election. 

During Carson’s 2022 speech for the Liberty and Health Alliance, he was introduced to the crowd as a politician, a description Carson disavowed in the first moments of his speech. “I’m not a politician,” he said. “I did work in the political arena, but definitely not a politician.” Despite Carson’s objection to the title, he seems firmly lodged in politics whether or not Trump selects him as a running mate.

About the author

Matthew Orquia is a rising senior at Southern Adventist University majoring in English with a Professional Writing emphasis. He is a summer intern for SPECTRUM and will be the Editor-in-Chief of The Southern Accent student paper this coming school year. More from Matthew Orquia.
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