US Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has strongly condemned media reports questioning parts of his inspirational biography.
The soft-spoken former neurosurgeon, who has recently surged in the GOP race to the White House, had a fiery exchange with reporters on Friday about his past and whether he has made up some crucial episodes of his life story.
“There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find ways to tarnish me because they’ve been looking through everything, they have been talking to everybody I’ve ever known, everybody I’ve ever seen,” Carson told reporters in Florida.
In his 1990 autobiography, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” Carson delves into his life journey from a young black boy with a “pathological temper,” who stabbed his friend and once tried to “kill somebody,” to his spiritual redemption and transformation to a renowned Yale-educated brain doctor.
Observers say that Carson’s personal narrative has been central to his successful campaign and star power.
‘Bunch of lies’
However, friends, classmates and neighbors who grew up with Carson told CNN they were surprised to hear about the acts of violence the rising candidate has described.
“That person is unrecognizable to those whom CNN interviewed, who knew him during those formative years,” the network said on Friday.
“This is a bunch of lies, that is what it is,” Carson told a CNN reporter who asked him about the network’s reporting. “This is a bunch of lies attempting to say I’m lying about my history. I think it’s pathetic, and basically what the media does is they try to get you distracted.”
Appearing on FOX News, Carson again accused CNN of fabricating lies. “I would say to the people of America: Do you think I’m a pathological liar like CNN does? Or do you think I’m an honest person?”
West Point scholarship?
POLITICO added fuel to the fire Friday by a report about Carson fictionalizing another angle of his biography.
Carson claimed in his autobiography to have been offered a “full scholarship” to the taxpayer-funded military academy at West Point.
It turns out that Carson never actually applied for West Point and that there is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the academy, POLITICO has learned. West Point also told the newspaper that it has no record of Carson applying.
When pressed by POLITICO, Carson’s campaign later acknowledged that he had never been admitted.
However, a spokesman for Carson told The Daily Caller that the candidate did not admit to “fabricating” his West Point story. “The POLITICO story is an outright lie,” Doug Watts said.
A recent national poll shows that Carson has surged past Donald Trump in the presidential race among Republican candidates. Carson has the support of 29 percent of likely Republican primary voters, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday. That’s the highest percentage any Republican candidate has obtained so far in the poll.
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