Ben Carson, West Point: Admits He Was Never Offered ‘Full Scholarship’ As Stated In Biography

Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, who is leading polls by the slightest of margins over Donald Trump, according to Real Clear Politics, has come under close scrutiny by Politico, CNN, and a number of other media outlets.

The uproar surrounds Carson’s 1996 biography, Gifted Hands, and passages concerning a change he underwent during his teen years and the fact that he wrote that he was offered a “full scholarship” to the United States Military Academy at West Point, as reported by Politico. The publication points out that West Point is a taxpayer-funded institution and does not offer scholarships.

In Gifted Hands, Carson reportedly recounts attending a Congressional Medal of Honor diner with General William Westmoreland in 1969, shortly after the general had served in Vietnam. According to Ben Carson’s biography, the dinner resulted in him being offered a “full scholarship” to West Point.

Wolf Blitzer, of CNN, points out that everybody who is accepted to West Point, in essence, gets a full scholarship.

Ben Carson, however, doesn’t appear to have ever formally applied to attend West Point.

Ben Carson speaks about West Point and youth.
Ben Carson has backed away from statements in his biography concerning the United States Military Academy at West Point. [Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
Armstrong Williams, Dr. Carson’s business manager, spoke about the Carson biography with CNN and stated that Westmoreland had in fact encouraged Carson to apply to West Point, but that Carson never did so.

“Dr. Carson was flattered. He beat his chest. He never followed through. He never applied, because he knew medicine was his calling.”

When pressed about who actually offered the scholarship to Carson by Wolf Blitzer, Williams seemed to skip who offered the scholarship, instead stating that he never applied, so he was never formally offered a scholarship.

“He has been telling this story for a long time. It has been in his book,” Williams stated. “This was so long ago. All that he knows is that he was encouraged to apply for the scholarship; to apply for admission to West Point. He never applied.”

Ben Carson speaks about childhood, West Point.
Dr. Ben Carson. [Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
Williams then spoke about how, as a young man, attending a dinner and being encouraged to apply to West Point was a turning point in Carson’s life, and that it was an event that he was quite proud of, even if he didn’t follow through. Carson was described as being one of the top ROTC cadets in Detroit and the surrounding area.

Carson was asked by Bill O’Reilly about the passages in his book on Friday afternoon.

“I guess it could have been more clarified. I told it as I understood it,” Carson was quoted.

Applicants to the United States Military Academy are required to be nominated by a member of U.S. Congress or senior military or government official. The fact that General William Westmoreland encouraged Carson to apply, implies that Carson would likely have been able to solicit such an endorsement, which might be considered a major step toward attending West Point. Beyond the recommendation, the admissions process to West Point is reported to be rigorous.

Carson was reported to repeat the West Point scholarship claims in his two other books, You Have a Brain and Take the Risk. His most recent telling of the full scholarship to West Point story was reportedly made via his Facebook page on August 13.

In an interview with CNN, Carson was asked about people he had written about in his biographies that might be able to shed light on a reported transformation Carson underwent from being an angry young man to the soft-spoken presidential candidate that he is today, and specifically, why CNN can’t have access to their identities so that they may verify Carson’s story.

Carson replied that his friends and acquaintances didn’t wish to be contacted and that he didn’t want them to be “victimized” by the media.

[Feature Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

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