Ben Carson on Sunday supported Donald Trump’s outreach to African-American voters, defending Trump against accusations that the Republican presidential nominee is pandering to minorities and arguing Democrats “have the explaining to do.”
“I’ve had many discussions with him about it. He becomes very animated during those discussions. This is a subject about which he cares deeply,” Carson, a former 2016 Republican presidential candidate, told “Fox News Sunday.” "And what is going to be accomplished is something that many in the Democrat Party fear -- and that is an alternative."
The retired neurosurgeon made the comments a day after Trump attended services at the Great Faith Ministries International church in Detroit, where he vowed to listen to the concerns of black voters and to help them and other minorities in U.S. cities plagued by crime, high unemployment and underachieving schools.
“The Republican Party has not made an extensive outreach to certain communities, including the African-American community because they've pretty much written that off as Democrat territory. Donald Trump is changing that narrative,” said Carson, a Detroit native who accompanied Trump on his visit.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, and other members of her party have repeatedly tried to discredit Trump’s outreach efforts, arguing he has a long history of “bigotry” and criticizing his pitch to minorities of: “What the hell do you have to lose?”
The backlash follows weeks of Trump aggressively courting the black vote, accusing Clinton and other Democrats running major U.S. cities of implementing policies that have failed to help minority residents for decades.
Most polls show Trump is likely to get about 1 percent of the black vote in November.
Later on “Fox News Sunday,” New York Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks said Trump was trying to “con” minority voters, including fellow blacks.
“It’s not real,” he said. “This was his first time visiting a black church. What you see here is a bait and switch.”
Meeks stopped short of calling Trump a bigot but said he has said “racist things” and has exhibited “racist tendencies.”
Carson on Sunday also defended criticism that Trump has called for “school choice” though he's presented no formal plan.
“You get to choose the school of your choice,” said Carson, arguing that Trump supports a voucher system that will allow families to send their children to better schools if the ones in their neighborhoods are underperforming.
“It’s really the Democratic Party that has the explaining to do,” Carson said. “They’ve been in charge of our cities for a long time. ... Detroit was once the most prosperous city in the United States, some people say in the world. From there it went to the largest bankruptcy. That was not a coincidence. And we see that in our large cities across the nation under Democratic control."