Not that it will make a bit of difference to his supporters, but Ben Carson completely lost it during a press conference Friday night. Like, I hope all of those reporters were wearing ROTC belt buckles lost it. Reporters pressed Carson hard on the Politico story questioning his claim to have earned a “full scholarship” to West Point. The reason I say it won’t matter is because Politico handed Carson a huge win by running the story with an oversold headline that they later had to change.
Essentially, Politico said Carson’s campaign had “admitted” that he “fabricated” the claim, when what actually happened was they argued there was a distinction without a difference:
“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
From a narrative perspective, especially among Republicans, the facts barely matter anymore because Politico used, then changed that headline. But what Carson’s campaign is saying, that some West Point guys were like “We can totally get you in,” is about the same as my former offer of a full scholarship to backstage at a Prince concert. They are not the same thing. Is it a high crime? No.
But after Friday night’s press conference, it will be hard for anyone to claim Ben Carson is “low energy.” I’m posting the full video and calling it a night, but there are a couple of things worth noting. The first is that instead of describing a meeting with General Westmoreland, Carson carefully said “I had the opportunity to meet General Westmoreland,” a potentially significant shift.
The other is that despite telling Megyn Kelly how he would never expose his “close relative” Bob (not his real name?) to a media avlanche, Carson offered to sell him out to reporters if they’d agree to drop the whole thing in exchange.
Here’s the full, unbelievable presser, which will probably gain Carson 15 points in Republican polls: