Ben Carson Campaign Now Says He 'Did Not Seek Admission' to West Point
By KATHERINE FAULDERS
Nov 6, 2015, 2:10 PM ET
Ben Carson did not apply and was not admitted to West Point Military Academy, despite writing in his book "Gifted Hands" that he had gotten a full scholarship offer from the school, his presidential campaign told ABC News.
"Again, though his senior commander was in touch with West Point and told Dr. Carson he could get in, Dr. Carson did not seek admission," the campaign said in a statement today.
Carson, as an ROTC student, was told that West Point would process an admission for him, campaign spokesman Doug Watts said.
Military commanders in Carson's hometown of Detroit said they would "take care of" his admission, Watts said, adding Carson then met with people and chose not to pursue it.
“Maybe the words are inaccurate, but that fact that you’re offered a chance to attend one of the military academies, you are in effect getting a scholarship because nobody pays a dime,” Watts said in a telephone interview.
Carson wrote that he "was offered a full scholarship to West Point" in his 1990 book, "Gifted Hands."
The statement comes as the neurosurgeon fires back at the media after failed attempts to confirm the violent childhood incidents he has publicly recounted. He stands by those stories.
As for West Point, which is tuition-free for accepted students in return for military service, “There is no such thing as a scholarship there, everybody is on scholarship,” Watts told ABC News. "He was told that they would process his admission and that they would get him in and he chose not to seek admission, nor did he apply.”
"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," the campaign said in a statement.
This is the full excerpt of what Carson wrote in the book:
"At the end of my twelfth grade I marched at the head of the Memorial Day parade. I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present. 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. I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after finishing college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school. I knew my direction – I wanted to be a doctor, and nothing would divert me or stand in the way. Of course the offer of a full scholarship flattered me. I was developing confidence in my abilities – just like my mother had been telling me for at least he past ten years.”
A West Point spokesman told ABC News that records from applicants who are not admitted to the school, don’t finish the full application process or are admitted but do not attend are thrown out after three years.
"Candidate files where admission/acceptance was not sought are retained for three years; therefore we cannot confirm whether anyone during that time period was nominated to West Point if they chose not to pursue completion of the application process," the spokesman said.
Carson lashed out at the media in a heated interview with CNN this morning, in which he called other questions into his past "pathetic" and "garbage."
“The story is well-documented," Carson said, referring to a story in question about trying to stab a friend or relative. "If you choose not to believe it, if it doesn’t fit the narrative that you want, that’s fine. Let’s let the American people decide.”
ABC News’ Paola Chavez and Madison Jaros contributed to this report.