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MILWAUKEE — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is ready to tell people who ask questions about his history to “go jump in a lake.”
Carson, a former neurosurgeon, is currently one of the leaders in the GOP primary field. As he has risen in the polls, a series of reports have highlighted inconsistencies about aspects of the personal narrative he has told in books and speeches over the years. Carson defended himself during the Republican debate here on Tuesday night. After he left the stage, he spoke to reporters in the spin room, and declared he was done answering questions about his stories.
“The only way I turn the page on my life story is: Stop answering the questions and direct them to something more important,” Carson said. “Because if I continue to answer the questions, that’s what I’ll be doing from now until Election Day. I know that.”
The reports that have called Carson’s biography into question include a CNN investigation that noted that “nine friends, classmates and neighbors who grew up with Carson” had no memory of various stories he has told in which he describes himself as angry and violent as a youth. Carson has presented these stories, including one about attempting to stab a friend, as a central part of his narrative of personal redemption through religion.
Ben Carson talks to members of the media after the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre Tuesday night. (Photo: Jeffrey Phelps/AP)
Carson’s campaign has declined to identify the individual he supposedly tried to stab. As Carson walked into the spin room, Yahoo News asked why he has not named the person, if it would help put the questions to rest. He waved off the question without responding. Carson elaborated on his rationale for not addressing skepticism about his biography when a reporter asked whether he felt that the moderators had let him “off the hook” during the debate by not pressing him on the issue.
“From this point on, I get to determine what the hook is. I get to determine whether I’m going to answer what I consider silly questions,” Carson explained. “If people have substantial things to talk about, I will. But if they want to talk about, well, you know, ‘Back in this book in 1990, you know, your mother got into some trouble, and can we talk about that?’ No, I’m going to say go jump in a lake.”
Yahoo News pointed out that many of the stories that have raised questions came from Carson’s own books and speeches.
“Yeah, but I’m not going to talk about them,” Carson said. “I’m going to choose not to talk about them, because I would be talking about them from now until the election and I’m not going to let people drive this. I’m not going to let them drive it.”
Yahoo then asked Carson why he wrote stories about his past that he no longer wants to discuss.
“Because before it was an autobiography, and it’s not an autobiography now because it’s already been written,” Carson said.