-- The Senate confirmed Ben Carson today as the secretary of the Department of House and Urban Development. Carson has never held elected office nor worked in government before.
Here's a snapshot of the new HUD secretary:
Full name: Benjamin Solomon Carson
Age: 65 (born Sept. 18, 1951)
What he used to do As chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Carson was the first doctor to successfully separate conjoined twins fused at the head, during a 22-hour operation in 1987. He was a pioneer in hemispherectomy, a procedure that removes half the brain to treat intractable seizures.
Carson ran for the Republican nomination for president, declaring his candidacy May 4, 2015. He dropped out and endorsed Donald Trump in March 2016. Later he was made a vice chairman of Trump’s transition team.
Carson was the national chairman of My Faith Votes. Along with his wife, Candy Carson, he is a founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, a philanthropic organization that awards $1,000 college scholarships to fourth- through 11th-graders and builds reading rooms nationwide.
How he grew up: Carson wrote in his book “One Nation” that he grew up in “dire poverty” with an illiterate single mother, Sonya Carson (nee Copeland), in Detroit. She worked two or three jobs at a time rather than “give up” and accept welfare, he said, instilling a tremendous work ethic in him and his older brother, Curtis Carson.
Key life and career moments: Ben Carson burst on the political scene at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, where he condemned political correctness, saying it “muffles people, it puts a muzzle on them.” In front of Barack Obama, Carson blasted the tax code and criticized the president’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Family: Carson met his wife at Yale, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan. They have three sons: Ben (B.J.), Rhoeyce and Murray Carson.
Frustrated by his family’s tough circumstances, when he was young, Carson said, he once tried to stab a classmate in the gut with a camping knife after a minor disagreement but a large metal belt buckle blocked the blade. “I was more terrified as I recognized that I was trying to kill somebody over nothing,” he later said. “I just locked myself up in the bathroom and started praying, ‘Lord, I can’t deal with this temper.’ And I picked up my Bible.”
Relationship with Donald Trump:
Carson had a contentious relationship with Trump during the 2016 primaries when he was still a presidential candidate. At one point Carson led the Republican field in national polls, even topping Trump, but his numbers sagged, and he never regained the top spot.
At the height of their rivalry, Trump compared Carson to a child molester in an interview with CNN, saying, “It’s in the book that he’s got a pathological temper. That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that ... as an example, child molesting. You don’t cure these people.”
Trump often called Carson “pathological” during their rivalry, asking the crowd of 1,500 Iowans before the caucuses there, “How stupid are the people of Iowa to believe this crap?” focusing on Carson’s accounts of his rough upbringing and the attempted stabbing.
However, the two mended their relationship and Carson endorsed Trump one week after dropping out of the race.
About his Senate confirmation hearing
During his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Carson declined to say whether he could assure Americans that the Trump family would not benefit in any way from HUD incentives.
Trump’s vast real estate holdings include a minor stake in a sprawling affordable housing development in Brooklyn, New York.
“It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American particularly,” Carson said in response to pointed questioning from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “It’s for all Americans, everything that we do.”
He also pledged to undertake a “listening tour” across the country to better understand the issues he would face as HUD secretary and said he would push for funding for the agency.