NEW YORK, December 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Dr. Ben Carson has been named as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The retired pediatric neurosurgeon, a former Republican rival to Trump in the primary who later was one of the first presidential candidates to back the real estate mogul, is the first African-American named to the Trump cabinet.
Trump said in a statement on the nomination that Carson, the retired director of pediatric neurosurgery for Johns Hopkins Hospital, was a distinguished national leader who overcame his troubled youth in the inner city of Detroit to become a renowned neurosurgeon.
“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Trump stated. “Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”
“We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities,” Trump continued. “Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
Trump had also told Americans in a videotaped Thanksgiving address that the inner cities were “so important” to him and “so important to our country.”
Carson said he was honored to serve in the Trump administration.
“I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need,” he said. “We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
Carson had hinted at the appointment on November 23, saying an announcement was forthcoming about his role in the Trump administration.
“Winning the presidential election was only the first step for those who love traditional America and do not wish to fundamentally change it,” Carson said in a statement that day on his Facebook page. “Now the hard work begins of restoring the values that made us great. We must bring back the compassion and the unity that empowers us and banish the divisiveness that weakens us.”
“After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone,” Carson said. “We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid.”
Trump had also tweeted the day before of the possible Carson pick. “I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I've gotten to know him well — he's a greatly talented person who loves people!”
Addressing the delay in the official announcement of Carson as HUD secretary, the Trump transition team praised the esteemed surgeon as having been a great supporter of Trump.
Carson had been an early supporter of Trump after the business magnate became the presumptive GOP nominee earlier this year, co-hosting a closed-door meeting with Trump and evangelicals this past June in New York.
Another “outsider” presidential candidate, Carson is respected for his personal story of rising from a disadvantaged youth who achieved academic honors and attended medical school to go on to become director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and earn fame for his pioneering work separating conjoined twins.
Also an author and philanthropist, Carson has a penchant for being direct in his take on issues, even albeit his mild demeanor. That has sometimes gotten him in hot water, whether with pro-lifers or liberals, leaving him often to either defend or pull back on something he has said.
He famously criticized Obamacare while giving the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast keynote address with Obama in the audience nearby, and last December on the campaign trail he condemned Obama’s policy of “using our military as a laboratory for social experimentation.”
Carson tied Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Lucifer at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July, citing Clinton’s stated hero and mentor radical socialist Saul Alinsky having dedicated his Rules for Radicals book to the prince of darkness.
Carson stood by the comments shortly thereafter and went on to say Clinton’s advocated policies were consistent with evil.
“When you look at the principles that are espoused by Christ, by Christianity, and you look at what’s espoused by evil,” Carson told CNN’s Chris Cuomo the next morning. “And you look at things like killing babies, you look at things like redefining marriage away from what the biblical definition is, I think there’s pretty good consistency there.”
Carson also said in an RNC interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric that the notion of changing genders was absurd.
“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” he told Couric.
He faced backlash in March 2015 for saying homosexuality was a choice.
While campaigning in November last year, Carson had expressed opposition to marriage redefinition and including “gender identity” in civil ordinances, stating it was not fair for transgender men to make everyone else uncomfortable in using the women’s restroom.
Carson expressed support for dispensing the abortifacient RU-486 drug to victims of rape and incest in an August 2015 discussion with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto while also making an unclear statement about when life begins, saying it’s when the unborn child’s heart starts beating.
Carson did say as well around that same time that the argument that abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother is “spurious.”
“I spent my entire career as a pediatric neurosurgeon, frequently staying up all night, fighting, struggling to save the lives of little babies, even operating on babies inside the womb,” he said. “So I don't think it should be hard for anybody to understand that I am totally opposed to killing babies.”
But he ran into difficulty with pro-lifers last August when it was learned he had referred women for abortions. Carson had said he didn’t believe in abortion, but would refer in cases of fetal abnormalities, and did not support challenging the legality of abortion.
Around the same time, it was also revealed that Carson supported experimentation on fetal remains even when derived from aborted children, stating it would be foolish not to use the tissue for that reason.
The revelation came at the height of Planned Parenthood’s exposure in trafficking human remains from babies aborted at its facilities, something with which Carson agreed that should mean the end of government funding for Planned Parenthood.
Carson said there was no contradiction between his pro-life views and the research in which he’d been involved that used fetal tissue, stating, “Killing babies and harvesting tissue for sale is very different than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it, which is exactly the source of the tissue used in our research.”
Carson had defended his opposition to euthanasia to LifeSiteNews in November of last year after garnering criticism for his comments, saying it was inappropriate for state-level politicians, then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the U.S. Congress to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, calling it “much ado about nothing.”
“I am steadfastly opposed to euthanasia,” Carson told LifeSiteNews. “I have spent my entire career protecting life, especially the life of children.”
“I regret that my recent comments about Terri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted,” he continued. “When I used the term 'much ado about nothing,' my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient.”
Carson then drew criticism from pro-lifers for his comments stating the pro-life movement should “tone down” its “hateful rhetoric” and “become more mature” after the November 27, 2015, Robert Lewis Dear shooting inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.
The media had tried to link the shooting to the pro-life movement, despite pro-life leaders having staunchly disavowed and condemned the act by Dear, who was a disturbed recluse later found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial.
In the days following the controversy Carson tempered his remarks but said there was no question that overheated rhetoric on both sides of the abortion debate may have contributed to the shooting, while also defending his pro-life record.
“I've spent my whole life as a pro-life advocate, trying to save lives,” said Carson, a regular speaker at women's pregnancy centers. “I don't think any candidate has been as involved in raising as much money for pro-life issues as I have.
So, when something is said that someone might try to interpret as anti-pro-life, that's just silly.”
Carson did, however, tell Fox News’ The Kelly File program that saying that abortionists are “killing babies” does not count as hateful rhetoric.
“I say that myself,” he stated. “I don't think that's hateful rhetoric; that's just the truth.”
He would also respond on the campaign trail to a Huffington Post “gotcha” question regarding the ability to go back in time and abort Adolf Hitler, that he was “not in favor of aborting anyone.”
A CNN/ORC International poll of likely Republican Iowa caucus last August had found Carson to be tied with Governor Mike Huckabee as most trustworthy on the abortion issue.
Carson had previously said he preferred to remain outside the Trump Administration as an advisor, but told the Fox Report Weekend show just days before the initial public mention in November that he was giving the idea of a cabinet position “very serious consideration.”
Two days later he’d told the network’s Your World with Neil Cavuto that the HUD slot was “one of the offers [from Trump] that is on the table,” and that he’d had long-time interest in addressing inner city issues.
“Our inner cities are in terrible shape,” Carson stated. “And they definitely need some real attention. There have been so many promises made over the last several decades and nothing has been done, so it certainly is something that has been a long-term interest of mine.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, and as of 2014 it had 8,416 employees and an annual budget of $32.6 billion, though that number jumped to $48.3 billion approved for Fiscal Year 2015.
Carson had previously given HUD attention while still campaigning.
He criticized HUD for “overreach” In June 2015 for forcing the city of Dubuque, Iowa, to evaluate housing voucher applications from Chicago the same as it did those from Dubuque residents.
“This is just an example of what happens when we allow the government to infiltrate every part of our lives,” Carson stated at the time. “This is what you see in communist countries, where they have so many regulations encircling every aspect of your life that if you don’t agree with them, all they have to do is pull the noose.”
The following month Carson wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times on HUD’s policies to desegregate housing.
“There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens,” Carson had written, “but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.”