‘His Comments Are Not Racist’: Ben Carson Defends Trump Amid Criticism for ‘Racist’ Tweets

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 17, 2019 Updated: July 18, 2019

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has weighed in on the public feud between President Donald Trump and several “progressive” Democratic congresswomen, saying that he did not think the president is racist.

“I have an advantage of knowing the president very well, and he’s not a racist and his comments are not racist,” Carson said during an appearance on Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” on July 17.

“But he loves the country very much and, you know, he has a feeling that those who represent the country should love it as well,” he added.

The secretary’s comments come after President Donald Trump received widespread condemnation for calling out several “progressive” members of the Democratic party—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashia Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), known as the “squad”—for their apparent anti-American and anti-semitic rhetoric.

He unloaded his accusations against the freshman congresswomen in a series of Twitter posts between July 14 and 16. His most notable post was one where he called on “‘progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” to “go back” to their countries to help fix the “totally broken and crime-infested places” before returning to the United States to “show us how it is done.” Apart from Omar, who was born in Somalia, the other three lawmakers were born in the United States.

Many of Trump’s opponents denounced the comments, calling them racist. The four congresswomen also held a press conference on July 15 to publicly fight back against the president.

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Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) speak at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019. (Holly Kellum/NTD)

The Democrat-controlled House even passed a resolution to condemn the president’s remarks on July 16 largely on party lines.

Carson told the program’s hosts that Trump’s record in lifting minorities out of poverty and unemployment demonstrates whether the president is racist or not.

“Look at his policies, you know, under this president you see the rising tide lifting all boats. You see low unemployment … record-low for blacks, for Hispanics … for all the demographics of our nation,” Carson said.

He then went on to give an example of the administration’s support for “opportunity zones.”

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President Donald Trump presides over a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on July 16, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Just a couple of weeks ago, the president signed an executive order establishing a council on eliminating the barriers to affordable housing. Who’s going to benefit from that? So when you have somebody who’s spending this much time and this much effort, trying to elevate those who are vulnerable and who are suffering in our society—I think we should pay a lot more attention to what they are doing than what anybody is saying,” Carson said.

Similarly, the president’s son Eric Trump also defended his father’s comments, saying that he agreed with the president’s message: “If you don’t love our country, get out. Leave.”

“I love the tweet, ‘If you don’t love our country, get out. Leave,’” Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “You know, if you complain about our country, you know, go to somewhere—go experience somewhere else in the world. I have seen a lot of the world, right? We have it so great in America. America is doing so well.”

“I’m not saying America doesn’t have certain problems. Go see the conditions around the world. And you will be so fortunate you live here. We are blessed to live in this country. And if you’re not happy about it. I like his message. Leave,” he added.

The president’s son said Democrats resort to “name-calling” because “they have no message.”

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Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, walks outside of Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“This is what’s happening to the party and it’s totally feeding into our hand. I hope they keep on doing it because they’re not getting anything done … if anybody thinks differently than them, if anybody looks different than them, if anybody acts different, if anybody has different beliefs or thoughts, they have no message, so what are they going to do? You’re a racist, you’re a this, you’re a that,” Trump said.

A recent opinion poll has found that Republican support for President Donald Trump had a slight increase after he went on his Twitter tirade calling out the far-left congresswomen.

The Reuters-Ipsos public opinion poll, conducted on July 15 and 16, showed that Trump’s net approval among members of the Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72 percent, compared with a similar poll that ran last week.

The poll also found that the president lost support with Democrats and independents since the tweetstorm on July 14.

About 3 out of 10 independents said they approved of Trump, down from 4 out of 10 a week ago. His net approval—the percentage who approve minus the percentage who disapprove—fell by 2 points among Democrats in the poll.

Overall, Trump’s approval remained consistent where 41 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, while 55 percent disapprove.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.