Ben Carson turns from competitor to Trump team member

Dr. Ben Carson started the election cycle as one of Donald Trump’s more popular rivals, before falling support led him to suspend his campaign. In March, Carson threw his support behind his erstwhile opponent. Since then has been one of Trump’s most vocal advocates, and will now help select the GOP nominee’s running mate. Judy Woodruff talks to Carson about his journey from rival to supporter.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We return to the presidential race now and to a man who once challenged Donald Trump, but now supports him, Dr. Ben Carson.

    Today, it was announced that he will assist the Trump campaign in selecting a running mate.

    For the record, I knew Dr. Carson before he was a candidate, when he was a doctor for one of my children.

    And he joins me now from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

    Welcome back to the "NewsHour," Dr. Carson.

    Now that Donald Trump has sewn up this nomination, what do you expect from him? Do you think he will change the message he's been giving to the American people, change his presentation, or do you think it will stay the same?

    DR. BEN CARSON (R), Former Republican Presidential Candidate: Well, you know, getting to the process of gaining the nomination involves a mud-fight.

    So, that's been largely taken care of. And now you can turn your focus a little bit more to some of the issues and some of the innovative solutions that really haven't been talked about before, and really trying stabilize the economic situation of our country.

    And I think you're going to see a lot of pivoting there. That doesn't mean there won't be some more mud-fighting when the actual election comes up with Hillary Clinton. But, right now, I think you're going to see a little bit different.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Do you expect to see him take a position or positions that will surprise the American people?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    I think people will be very pleasantly surprised by what he really has an opportunity to explain, because many have said, oh, he doesn't have any understanding of foreign policy, doesn't really, truly understand how the system works. I think they will be surprised at that.

    I think people will also be surprised at some of the individuals who will be selected for different positions. They will be, I think, very pleasantly surprised when they see the list of Supreme Court possibilities.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    As you know, a number of prominent Republicans are saying — yes, some are saying they will support him, but there are a number of prominent Republicans saying they will never support him.

    We heard again today from the Senator from Nebraska Ben Sasse. He said — he said: I stick with my view that I have expressed before that Donald Trump is a destructive force bent on dividing the country.

    Does Donald Trump try to change the minds of people like Senator Sasse, or does he just move on?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    Well, you know, early on, you will hear a lot of that, as you have always heard when there's controversy in a selection.

    Over the course of time, that tends to melt away as people begin to consider the alternative. Now, there may be some Republicans who, you know, prefer a more progressive ideology, prefer, you know, more debt, prefer withdrawal from the world and allowing our enemies to multiply and destruction of our military.

    And those people probably should — should move on.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Do you think it's significant, Dr. Carson, that both former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are saying today that they don't plan to get involved in this election, they don't plan to express their view one way or another?

    In other words, they're not going to get behind this candidacy, they're saying.

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    Well, again, we must recognize that, you know, what Donald Trump represents is really quite alien to the traditional political system, Democrats or Republicans. You know, they're used to having people who are part of the system, who have obligations to this group or this group.

    To have somebody who is completely uncontrollable is a very difficult thing for the system to adjust to. But, hopefully, they will. The people have adjusted to it. And the people have decided that they will supersede the system and vote in such numbers that it wouldn't be thrown into a contested situation.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, of course, you're referring to some or most of those who vote in these Republican primaries.

    I know you're familiar with the polls, Dr. Carson, that show Donald Trump has a problem with different groups of voters, Hispanics, African-Americans, women. How does he begin to win those important parts of the electorate over?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    Well, I think he's going to begin to address those, certainly going to begin talking about the kinds of programs that provide ladders of opportunity that will give a person the ability to climb out of a state of dependency, utilizing their own God-given talents and strengths and hard work.

    And we will do things to try to facilitate that. We will be talking about how we can make education more widely available. And I'm talking about good education. You look at our inner cities, you look at some of those high schools, we have more than 50 percent of people dropping out, not because they don't want to be educated, but because they're not being educated, and they say, what's the point in being here?

    We have to change that, because we need all of those people. We only have 330 million people. We have to compete against China with 1.3 or 1.4 billion. We can't afford to lose any of our people. We need to start talking about, you know, our justice system and how we prevent such an influx of people, because we can't afford to be losing all these people. This is great talent.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    I saw another comment today, this one from the former governor of Utah, Republican Mike Leavitt. He said, "Donald Trump is going to have to demonstrate he has the temperament to be president."

    How does Donald Trump do that?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    I think he — you know, we all have our weaknesses. There's no question about that.

    And, you know, he has sometimes had a little difficulty letting something go when somebody insults him. But I think he realizes that this will be a trick that his opponents will use to try to get him off track. And I think he's much smarter than people think. And he's just not going to fall for that.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Finally, you mentioned Supreme Court names. Glad to have you share any of those with us.

    And, also, as I mentioned, he said that — Donald Trump said you're going to be on the committee looking at a possible running mate. Are you interested in that position yourself?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    I prefer to work from the outside.

    And I also recognize that myself as a running mate would just start the feeding frenzy again on behalf of some of the media who just couldn't stand the thought of me doing anything. Rather than become a distraction in that sense, you know, I would rather help from the outside.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And are there some names of individuals you think would make a good running mate for him? Do you have people in mind?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    I think there's a whole host of terrific people.

    And, you know, I would rather allow, you know, Donald Trump himself to reveal those names.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And you're going to be working closely with him during this campaign, during the remainder of this campaign?

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    We will be working during the campaign to do everything we possibly can.

    You know, my goal is to make sure that we have a thriving and vibrant America for the next generation. You know, my whole life has been about children and making things better for them. And that's not going to happen unless we fix the economy and create a safe environment.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Dr. Ben Carson, we thank you for joining us.

  • DR. BEN CARSON:

    Thank you so much, Judy.

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