Ben Carson’s presidential campaign may be on life support, but for better or worse, his propensity for making outrageous comments is keeping alive his presence in the news cycle.
In a new POLITICO podcast, Carson says President Obama was “raised white” because “many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia.”
“I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but… he didn’t grow up like I grew up,” Carson adds. “So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”
Last October — back when Carson seemed to have a real shot at becoming the GOP presidential nominee — the retired neurosurgeon was involved in a similar controversy when he defended News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch after the media mogul tweeted, “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?”
Obama, whose dad was Kenyan and mom was white, has discussed how his skin color resulted in him being the victim of racial slurs and profiling while he was growing up. In the wake of the shooting death of 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin in 2012, Obama famously said, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.”
Carson’s comments aren’t the first time in recent days a Republican presidential candidate has tried to drive a wedge between Obama and the African American community. During a South Carolina rally last Friday, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump blasted Obama for not doing more for African Americans.
“You know, Barack Obama — African American — If I were African American, I would be so angry at him,” Trump said. “African American youth has an almost 60 percent unemployment rate. African American people that are 25, prime-time age, 25 to 40, have such a high unemployment rate, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s gone up and it’s gotten worse since he’s been president.”
Government data doesn’t back Trump’s assertion, however. According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of last month, the African American unemployment rate was 8.8 percent, down from 12.7 percent when Obama first took office in January 2009, while African American youth age 16 to 19 currently have a 25.2 percent unemployment rate.
Last year, another Republican presidential hopeful, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, accused Obama of “inflamed racial tensions” during his time in office. Cruz cited Vice President Joe Biden’s 2012 comment to an African American audience that Republicans would “put you back in chains” to illustrate his point, but offered no specifics about what he would do to improve race relations if elected president.