Editor’s Note: We incorrectly stated that Ben Carson is the only physician in the presidential race. That is incorrect. Sen. Rand Paul is also a doctor. We regret the oversight.
GWEN IFILL: More than a dozen Republicans gathered in New Hampshire last night to explain why one of them should be president. The rollout continues Thursday night, as the 10 most popular gather in Cleveland for the first in a series of poll-tested, party-sanctioned formal debates.
This afternoon, FOX News announced the stage will include Donald Trump, who tops the polls, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who squeezed Texas Governor Rick Perry out for the 10th slot.
Also making the cut, the only physician in the race, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
I spoke with him a short time ago as part of our continuing series on the men and women competing in 2016. We call it Running.
Thank you for joining us.
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON, Republican Presidential Candidate: My pleasure.
GWEN IFILL: I want to talk to you as a physician. It’s the one thing that makes you very unique in this race from all the other more than a dozen candidates. And as you prepare to go on the debate stage in Cleveland on Thursday, I’m sure a lot of these questions will come to you as well.
You have been talking a lot about Planned Parenthood and about how it should be defunded.
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Yes.
GWEN IFILL: And I want to ask you, as a physician, who would happen to the people who go to Planned Parenthood for treatment other than abortion? Where should they get treat — where should they get services?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, you know, I have had an opportunity to be the guest speaker at fund-raisers for multiple pregnancy centers around the country. They’re all over the place. And they can get those same services there.
Plus, they get somebody who counsels them on all the alternatives that they have, and doesn’t sort of push them in one direction.
GWEN IFILL: So you’re saying there are other alternatives which don’t involve government money, government funding?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Yes, most of those are privately funded.
GWEN IFILL: Another question for you as a physician: There has been much discussion recently around the country about the Black Lives Matter movement. And you have made clear that you believe that all lives matter.
So, as a physician who has dealt with gun violence, who has obviously worked in emergency rooms, who has dealt with the fallout from that, what should we be doing about gun violence in this country, and does it disproportionately affect one population over another?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, certainly, you see a lot more gun violence in inner cities.
I have spent many, many a night, you know, working on the heads of people who have been shot in the head, you know, black people primarily, but white people as well. And it’s devastating. And of course those lives matter.
And I believe what we’re going to have to do is really concentrate on, where is all this violence coming from? And it’s not all coming from one specific area. But it’s coming from a general lack of respect for life, and, you know, this person pissed me off, and I got a gun, I’m going to kill them.
I mean, when did we get like that and the values that used to be put into people? And I think a lot of it stems from the fact that we don’t really like to talk about values anymore, because whose values are they, we ask? You know, it’s all relative. There is no right there. There is no wrong. You know, it’s all relative.
That’s the same thing that the Romans did.
GWEN IFILL: But that’s not the same thing as a solution to the problem.
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: No.
The solution to the problem is, we have to start teaching values again, teaching people to respect one another again, and to understand that human life is valuable. Even if somebody disagrees with you, their life is still valuable.
GWEN IFILL: Another question to you as a physician. You have called for the repeal, like many, probably all Republican candidates have, of the president’s health care plan. What would you replace it with?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: I would replace it with a system that put the care back in the hands of the patients and the health care providers.
It would revolve around health savings accounts, which everybody would have made available to them from the day they’re born until the day they die, at which time they can pass it on to their family. I would pay for it with the very same dollars that we pay for traditional health care with, although we wouldn’t have to use as much.
And people would have real control of their health savings account. It wouldn’t be the kind that has a whole bunch of bureaucrats involved in it. And you would give people the ability to shift money within their HSA within their family. So, let’s say you were $500 short. Your sister could give it to your or your cousin or your uncle or your grandmother, anybody in your family. It makes everybody their own — every family their own insurance company with no middleman.
GWEN IFILL: So many other things I want to talk to you about. And I don’t want to cut you off, but I do want the move on to immigration…
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: OK.
GWEN IFILL: … which the president has obviously talked that he has an approach. Donald Trump has said he has an approach, building a wall, which I think you said is stupid.
And you have suggested perhaps creating a guest-worker program that allows people back into the country. How do you, at the root, though, get — take care of those or somehow deport those 11 million undocumented immigrants who are here now?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, I haven’t said anything about deporting them.
What I said is we have to secure all the borders, not just the southern borders, because it’s not just people from Mexico and Honduras. It’s jihadists. We need to be able to secure those borders. And then we need to turn off the spigot that dispenses all the things that they’re coming here to get.
If there’s no reason for them to come here, that stops the influx. Now, you still have 11.5 million people here, some of whom have never been anyplace else. Where are you going to send them to? We have to be pragmatic here.
And those people, I would give an opportunity to become guest workers. They have to register. They have to pay a back tax penalty. And they have to pay taxes going forward, but they don’t have to live in the shadows at that point. And also we don’t collapse the farming industry, we don’t collapse the hotel industry and a bunch of other industries. It doesn’t give them citizenship. It doesn’t give them voting rights.
If they want to get citizenship, they get in the back of the line and go through the same process as everybody else.
GWEN IFILL: I want to read back to you something you said last night at the forum in New Hampshire and you have said before, in which you talked about how religious freedom is under attack
And you went on to say, “There’s a war on women, racial wars, income war, religious wars. Every war that you can imagine is going on,” you said.
Why do you think that is? And what is it that a president can do to speak to that conflict?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Why are the purveyors of hatred and division having a field day in our society?
I think some of it comes from the fact that we are not resisting them. And our positions of leadership, in some cases, we actually play into the hands of the purveyors of division, rather than pointing out what we all have in common. And that’s something that I think the bully pulpit is particularly useful for doing.
GWEN IFILL: So the bully pulpit is a solution to all of these wars that you describe?
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: It’s not a solution, but it helps tremendously.
And, you know, we have to make it very clear to the American people that we’re not each other’s enemies. And just because somebody happens to disagree with you about something doesn’t mean that they become your mortal enemy and that you should try to destroy them and destroy their life and destroy their family.
Where did this kind of stuff come from? Obviously, it doesn’t come from anybody who is interested in strengthening our country.
GWEN IFILL: Dr. Ben Carson, good luck on Thursday night. And thank you for joining us.
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Thank you very much.