Report: GOP’s Carson says he never received West Point scholarship

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is facing scrutiny for part of his 1996 book “Gifted Hands,” which claims he turned down a scholarship from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

On Friday, Politico published a story that Carson’s campaign admitted the West Point scholarship was fabricated.

The story from “Gifted Hands,” according to Politico, has it that in 1969 the 17-year-old Carson had dinner in his native Detroit with Gen. William Westmoreland, who had recently finished commanding U.S. forces in Vietnam. Carson writes that he then was offered a “full scholarship” to the academy.

West Point, Politico says, has no record of Carson applying, or of being accepted. A spokeswoman told Politico that Westmoreland may have encouraged Carson to apply, but couldn’t have offered him a spot in West Point — prospective students must be nominated by a member of Congress or a military official.

And there is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to West Point — in exchange for a military commitment, admission is free.

“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett said 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.”

Bennett added, “He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC supervisors. 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.”

Carson has claimed he turned down the supposed offer because he preferred a career in medicine to the military, Politico said.

In response to the Politico article, Carson campaign spokesman, Doug Watts, on Friday afternoon told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the “story is a lie” and that Carson “never said he was admitted or even applied.”

“Dr. Carson as the leading ROTC student in Detroit was told by his Commanders that he could get an Appointment to the Academy. He never said he was admitted or even applied,” said Watts.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up