[UPDATE: Ben Carson’s campaign has denied specifically “admitting,” to Politico, that Carson intentionally misled people.] Ben Carson’s campaign reportedly admitted Friday that his oft-repeated story about applying and obtaining a scholarship to the West Point military academy was a lie.
Carson first described the scholarship offer in his 1996 inspirational bestseller, Gifted Hands, writing that it came after he was selected from the ROTC ranks to march at a Detroit Memorial Day parade.
“Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present,” Carson wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
But his campaign now reportedly concedes: most, if not all of that passage was a lie.
“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process) then we would have records indicating such,” she said.
And records obtained by the publication indicate Carson couldn’t have met the general the way he claimed.
According to records of Westmoreland’s schedule that were provided by the U.S. Army, the general did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson. In fact, the general’s records suggest he was in Washington that day and played tennis at 6:45 p.m.
Carson’s campaign tells the paper it’s been so long since Carson met the general that he can’t remember the specific details. But his campaign manager, Barry Bennett tells Politico the story isn’t totally fabricated:
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett went on. “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.”