Trump con­sid­er­ing Ben Car­son to lead HUD

Re­tired Hop­kins sur­geon re­port­edly will weigh de­ci­sion over hol­i­day

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By John Fritze john.fritze@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jfritze

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said Tues­day he is con­sid­er­ing nam­ing Dr. Ben Car­son to lead the Department of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment, a de­par­ture from spec­u­la­tion that the re­tired Johns Hop­kins neu­ro­sur­geon would fit best in a health pol­icy job.

“I am se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing Dr. Ben Car­son as the head of HUD,” Trump said in a tweet Tues­day. “I’ve got­ten to know him well — he’s a greatly tal­ented per­son who loves peo­ple!”

Later Tues­day, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported that Trump had for­mally of­fered Car­son the job, and Car­son would think about it over Thanks­giv­ing. The AP cited a per­son fa­mil­iar with the of­fer speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the per­son was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the de­lib­er­a­tions pub­licly.

It was the lat­est twist in an un­usual al­liance be­tween two men who once ques­tioned each other’s faith on the cam­paign trail. As re­cently as last week, Car­son sounded dis­in­clined to take any job in Trump’s Cabi­net, say­ing his pref­er­ence would be to serve as an out­side ad­viser.

Be­fore that, there had been con­sid­er­able spec­u­la­tion Car­son might head the Department of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices or the Department of Ed­u­ca­tion. Both depart­ments could face up­heaval in the tran­si­tion from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to Trump.

Car­son, who lived in Bal­ti­more County for years be­fore re­tir­ing from Hop­kins and Car­son mov­ing to Florida, said he was qual­i­fied to lead the hous­ing department in part be­cause he grew up in Detroit and prac­ticed medicine in Bal­ti­more.

“Our in­ner cities are in ter­ri­ble shape, and they def­i­nitely need some real at­ten­tion,” Car­son told Fox News on Tues­day. “I grew up in the in­ner city and have spent a lot of time there, and have dealt with a lot of pa­tients from that area. And I rec­og­nize that we can­not have a strong na­tion if we have weak in­ner cities.”

Car­son said he would be “think­ing and pray­ing” about the job.

It is un­usual for a pres­i­dent-elect to float the names of can­di­dates un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for Cabi­net posts be­cause it can harm their ca­reers if they are not ul­ti­mately se­lected.

Car­son, 65, briefly led polls in the Repub­li­can pri­mary last year but sus- pended his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in March fol­low­ing a fifth-place finish on Su­per Tues­day and dis­ap­point­ing re­sults in other early states.

A renowned pe­di­atric neu­ro­sur­geon at Hop­kins, Car­son cap­tured na­tional at­ten­tion in 2013 with a speech at the an­nual Na­tional Prayer Break­fast in Wash­ing­ton. The speech was no­table be­cause Car­son crit­i­cized the poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in his pres­ence.

Two years later, he en­tered the race for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, ar­gu­ing that the na­tion needed an out­side voice to fix na­tional pol­i­tics.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Trump and Car­son was con­tentious dur­ing the pri­mary. Trump of­ten de­scribed Car­son as “lowen­ergy,” and once com­pared him to a child mo­lester. At one point, the two ques­tioned each other’s re­li­gious faith.

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