Donald Trump offers Ben Carson the position of HUD secretary

Donald Trump offers Ben Carson the position of HUD secretary
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The Associated Press reported Tuesday evening President-elect Donald Trump has offered neurosurgeon and Republican Party primary contender Ben Carson the role of secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump had teased the potential offer earlier in the day via Twitter, posting Carson is a "greatly talented person who loves people!"

Carson is an unusual pick for the role to say the least. He has no formal top-level background in housing or development policy, though his rags-to-riches story of being raised as a poor black child in Detroit before attending Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School at one time made him a role model to many in the black community.

Carson ran the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland's pediatric neurosurgery department from 1984 to 2013, and was widely credited as one of the best neurosurgeons in the United States before embarking on a career as an author and motivational speaker.

Earlier in November, Carson confidant Armstrong Williams told the Hill that Carson was not interested in heading up the Department of Health and Human Services because "he 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."

After Carson's popularity in conservative circles grew following a 2013 National Prayer Breakfast in which he criticized President Barack Obama's policies to his face, he launched a 2016 presidential bid that went all but smoothly.

In addition to claiming the Egyptian pharaohs built the great pyramids to store grain, admitting to misrepresenting a story about being admitted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and landing in hot water over his ties to a dietary supplement company, Carson endured rounds of media criticism for suggesting Muslims would not be qualified to serve as president.

Carson was also repeatedly criticized by Trump. On one occasion, Trump referred to Carson's penchant for dubious stories about his youth as "pathological" and compared him to a "child molester." Carson later said, "You have to admit to some degree that it did work. A lot of people believed him."

However, Carson eventually endorsed Trump and became one of his main political surrogates during the general election — though sometimes Carson stumbled to defend Trump's statements. While Trump has little formal background directly related to the HUD role, the pick may be both a decision to reward Carson's political expediency and diversify a Cabinet roster mostly made up of white men.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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