The Ben Carson campaign admitted Friday that one of the GOP frontrunner’s frequently told stories was largely fabricated. After being investigated by POLITICO, Carson’s campaign manager admitted that the former neurosurgeon never received a “full scholarship” offer from West Point. Carson has told this story many times, and included it in his autobiography.
Carson claimed that in 1969 he dined with Gen. William Westmoreland, a high ranking general who just completed a tour of Vietnam. Carson met the General during a ceremony in Detroit for two Medal of Honor recipients, and sat at the table with Westmoreland and the soldiers. According to Carson’s book Gifted Hands, Westmoreland offered Carson a full scholarship to West Point Military Academy.
Research by POLITICO proved that the story is at least partially false. West Point has no record of Carson applying. The Military Academy does not have a “full scholarship” program; all student costs are covered.
Who among us hasn’t lied about getting to accepted to West Point, and included it in a memoir made into a TV movie, and campaigned on it?
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) November 6, 2015
West Point officials said that offers are only extended to students who seek admission. Carson did not apply to the school, so was not offered admission at any point. This accusation comes just days after CNN cast doubt on Carson’s stories about his troubled childhood. Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennet modified the West Point story after inquiry by POLITICO and said that Carson’s ROTC supervisors introduced him to Westmoreland. The general supposedly told the young Carson that he would easily be accepted to West Point because of his good grades and success in ROTC. Carson did not pursue West Point, and ultimately did not even apply to the school. However, this version of the story does not hold up to scrutinization either. Carson claims that he met Westmoreland at the Detroit ceremony on Memorial Day, but the general’s records reveal that he was playing tennis in Washington, D.C. during the holiday. However, Westmoreland was in Detroit in February 1969 for a banquet, similar to the one Carson described.
Carson claims that he cannot remember specifics of the event. A West Point official said that it is possible that Carson met with Westmoreland, who encouraged him to apply to the school, although the general would have not guaranteed his admission to the school in any way. Ultimately, even though it is possible Carson met with the general and discussed West Point, no offer ever was made to Carson, and he never applied to the school.
Carson made the claim as recently as October of 2015, during an appearance on the Charlie Rose program: