Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is standing by his claim he once was offered admission to West Point, though acknowledges the offer was “informal.”
The former pediatric neurosurgeon, leading polls in Iowa and across the country, is responding to a disputed report from Politico drawing attention to his past claims that he “was offered a full scholarship to West Point.” Politico reported Friday that West Point has no record of any such offer.
But Carson maintains that after meeting Gen. William Westmoreland, the highly-decorated general from the Vietnam War told him he could get him into the military academy.
“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point,'” Carson told The New York Times on Friday after the Politico story broke.
“I don’t remember all the specific details,” Carson added. “Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me — they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”
Carson’s campaign has expressed frustration with the reporting. “The Politico story is an outright lie,” Doug Watts told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Indeed, Politico appears to have overplayed their hand: the story headline states “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship,” even though the story does not include any admission from the candidate or campaign.
Politico, according to Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple, isn’t budging: “We stand by our story which is a powerful debunking of a key aspect of Ben Carson’s personal narrative.”
What is still up for debate is whether Ben Carson misled — or exaggerated — his past or if he accurately described his conversation with Westmoreland by saying he “was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”