A day after President-elect Donald Trump announced that he is “seriously considering” Ben Carson to be his Housing and Urban Development secretary, the retired neurosurgeon briefly appeared to have accepted the offer.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday afternoon that Carson’s business manager and spokesman, Armstrong Williams, confirmed that Carson had agreed to accept the HUD post in the Trump administration. But the Journal then walked that report back.
“Trump did not make an offer,” Williams told Reuters. “He asked him to consider HUD. Nothing has been offered, and no decision has been made.”
Regardless, earlier in the day Wednesday, Carson hinted on Facebook that an announcement was coming.
“Winning the presidential election was only the first step for those who love traditional America and do not wish to fundamentally change it,” Carson wrote. “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.”
Last week, Williams, Carson’s top aide, told The Hill newspaper that while plenty of positions were open, the former Republican presidential candidate didn’t think he had the experience necessary.
“Dr. Carson was never offered a specific position, but everything was open to him,” Williams told The Hill after Carson met with the president-elect at Trump Tower. “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience; he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
But on Tuesday, Williams told Business Insider that the opportunity to lead HUD may be too good to pass up.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
“HUD is a place that has an impact on something that Dr. Carson cares tremendously about, the inner city and urban America,” Williams said. “Dr. Carson really has a passion for those issues where you could really make a difference and impact America’s mayors. And while he would like to remain in private life, the president has made an offer that he will really seriously consider, and that’s what he’s doing.”
Carson reiterated this sentiment in his Facebook post.
“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 wrote. “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. An announcement is forthcoming about my role in helping to make America great again.”
Carson ran against Trump in the Republican primary before dropping out of the race, endorsing him and becoming a high-profile surrogate. His campaign against Trump was at times tense; Trump once even compared Carson’s supposed aggression, referenced in his memoir, to an incurable child molester.
The day after the election, Carson said Trump was remarkably reserved as he was starting to sense victory.
“He was quite somber,” Carson told Yahoo News, “I think really reflecting on the tremendous responsibility that was going to be on his shoulders. He was not leaping for joy — he was much more contemplative.”
Carson said Trump’s tentative tone — surprising to some — is a preview of what Trump’s White House will look like.
“I think that kind of shows and gives us some insight into what kind of president he’s going to be,” he said. “I don’t think he’s going to go off half-cocked. I think he’s going to be waiting, listening, weighing options, talking to people. And I think that’s one of the inappropriate impressions people have gotten about him, that he’s sort of brash and impulsive. And he really isn’t.”
Last updated 4:445 p.m. ET. Additional contribution by Colin Campbell.