Dr. Ben Carson joined me today to discuss the debate, the race and the Zika virus:
HH: So pleased to welcome back Dr. Ben Carson. Follow him on Twitter, @RealBenCarson. Dr. Carson, good to talk to you, welcome back.
BC: Good to be back. Thank you.
HH: Dr., you broke off your campaign because of a car crash that seriously injured…how are they doing? We want to pray for them, we want to keep them, what’s going on?
BC: Yes, well, the family, fortunately, obviously, they’ve gone through a horrible tragedy, but they’re strong people of faith. And you know, that has got them through. And the campaign, I think, has drawn together even closer. It’s called the Braden effect, because Braden Joplin was such a healing influence. He was always looking after the concerns of other people. He wanted to make sure that they felt that. And we’re seeing that spread throughout the campaign.
HH: Well, our prayers are with the family and with you, Dr., and everyone in the campaign. That’s a horrible thing, and I admire that you did what you did and went to comfort the family. Let me also ask you a question that if I had been a moderator last night, I’d have gone to you and Dr. Paul. This Zika virus is a bad deal. And you know what a small head means for a baby, and there are 4,000 cases. If you were president of the United States, what would you be doing, given the epidemiology that is coming out of Brazil?
BC: Well, the key thing is to make sure that any female from our country traveling there has to be informed about what the potential is. And if she’s sexually active at all, I would discourage them from going. Now we also are going to have to do much more in the way of studying to see if the only mode of transmission is through a mosquito bite. It is essential that we hammer that down quickly. And that’s a task that I would give to the CDC.
HH: Now how do we get to a vaccine? This is obviously crying out for a vaccine in a hurry. How do you do that? How do you organize the government and the drug companies to get going on this?
BC: Yeah, well, frequently, you know, they’ve already got a head start. And you just need to accelerate what’s been going on. But you just make it a priority. You make it a national priority. You incentivize people at NIH at the immunization and allergy divisions to get working.
HH: How serious a problem do you think it is?
BC: It’s a potentially huge problem if we don’t take the right preventative action. Now again, if we’re very careful, we need to make this into a big deal. There should be no woman in America traveling to that region of the world who isn’t aware.
HH: Well, well said. Well said, and I can’t believe it didn’t come up last night. How’d you like the debate last night?
BC: Well, you know, I got very little time, but I think I had an opportunity to say a lot during that little bit of time.
HH: You did. You reminded people of why they liked you, actually. That’s what my takeaway was.
BC: You know, I would love to see a situation where the moderators actually sort of kept a little score in terms of who was getting time and who wasn’t, and trying to even it out a little bit. That would be a really wonderful thing.
HH: You did talk about foreign affairs, and displayed that you’ve been studying up. I want to ask you about the Navy, because it came up that we have 272 ships last night, and when I’m back on the stage in February and March, I’m going to be honing in on aircraft carriers and Navy group sand submarines and all that kind of stuff.
HH: If I think, so where do you think we stand with Naval strength? What are your experts telling you?
BC: Well, I mean, we have the smallest Navy since 1917, and you know, at a time when maritime strength is important, you know, we have issues in the Middle East, we have issues in the South China Sea, and we’ve got the rest of the world to cover. We have a terrible record of maintenance, and we take such a long time when we take a ship out of commission to maintain it. We’ve got to do a better job of that. We’ve got to do a much better job of production. And it may mean that we need to pivot to a different type of vessel, but it shouldn’t take us ten years to create a carrier.
HH: That’s true. All right, let me turn to the headline of the afternoon. It has been confirmed that Hillary Clinton had 22 classified emails. The Associated Press reported they are looking into whether the emails were classified when they were sent, but the report today is 22 emails with material demanding one of the highest levels of classification. Should she withdraw from this campaign, Dr. Carson?
BC: I think so, and I’m not even as concerned about the legal ramifications as I am of what it says about her judgment. I mean, you’re going to take somebody who’s been a first lady for eight years, a Senator for a number of years, and the Secretary of State who doesn’t have enough judgment to recognize that that is putting the United States in jeopardy? And you’re going to take that same person and give her the keys to everything? That doesn’t make any sense.
HH: Why isn’t it resonating with average people that she just cavalierly ignored basic security protocol?
BC: Because the mainstream media is in their protection mode, circle the wagons, trying to downplay this. And you know, that’s a big part of the problem in our country right now. You know, we have the political class and the media attempting to orchestrate and control…
HH: Your cell’s breaking up on me there, Doctor. Your cell’s breaking up on me. I don’t know if you’re driving. You probably are as you go around Iowa. Did we lose you? I think we lost the Doctor, so we’ll have to try back…So Dr. Carson, I’m going to ask you, will you guarantee better cell coverage if you’re president?
BC: (laughing) You know, it’s funny, because I was talking about that the other day. You know, in these rural areas, we’re going to have to do something about that.
HH: We really are. It’s driving talk show hosts crazy. Are you working, are you staying in Iowa until Caucus?
HH: And so how is the energy on Team Carson, and we’ll come back after the break and talk specifics. But what’s the energy level?
BC: The energy level is extremely high. Everybody is very excited about what we’re seeing here on the ground. We’ve got a big team, lots of volunteers, and I believe people in the media are going to be quite surprised on Monday.
HH: I’ll be interested. I’m not making any predictions, though I think Ted’s going to win. But I don’t know where anyone else is. I’ll be right back, America. Dr. Carson is my guest.
— – — –
HH: Talk to me about the, I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, The Revenant, yet, Dr. Carson. You’ve been pretty busy. I doubt you have.
HH: There’s an epic scene between a bear and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s a fight, and it reminds me of Trump-Cruz. What is going on there?
BC: Well, you know, Donald Trump fights anybody who gets close to him. He used to say he only fought people who have attacked him first, but of course, when I got close to him and passed him up, that changed. And of course, you’re seeing that dynamic now with Ted Cruz.
HH: What’s it tell you about Donald Trump?
BC: It tells me that he’s going to attack anybody who he feels threatened by. And you know, the American people will have to decide whether that’s the kind of person that they really want to serve as their commander-in-chief.
HH: Now some Republicans, Dr. Carson, look ahead to the Clinton machine, and they know it well, and they think they need a brawler. I think that’s part of Donald Trump’s deep appeal, is that he will swing Thor’s hammer. What do you think?
BC: I agree that you need someone tough. But you don’t necessarily need, you know, a barstool fight. You need somebody who is tactical, who can figure out what the weaknesses of the enemy are, who can exploit those without breaking all the dishes.
HH: Now after operations that are complicated, long and arduous, you have to wait a period of time to know the results. And then you have to go back and do, I think, an assessment. What will you do after Iowa? Whatever the numbers are, whatever the result is, what’s the Dr. Carson feedback loop? And how does it relate to your years of pediatric neurosurgery?
BC: Well, you know, I will have a tendency to look at the support. How much support do you have in terms of, you know, money, in terms of people who are clearly behind you, who are following you, who are encouraging you. And certainly, if I were to lose that, there wouldn’t be any point in being here. You know, I look at some people, you know, and they’re polling at 0 or 1% consistently. You know, I couldn’t do anything like that.
HH: Do you have a minimum number in your head in terms of percentage or place? With 12 people, there are 12 places, obviously. And do you have to finish fourth or higher? Or 5% or higher in Dr. Carson’s mind to move on to New Hampshire?
BC: I really don’t look so much at a number as I look at a trend. And I see which way are things moving. And if you’re putting forward your very best effort and things are moving in the reverse direction, then that should tell you something.
HH: Is that what you’ve been experiencing or feeling until recently?
BC: Well, recently, things are starting to pick up again. Money’s picking up again, support’s picking up again. So that’s a good thing. But you know, I always keep an open mind, to see which way things are going to go.
HH: All right, now the last question I’m asking almost everyone this. I asked Ted Cruz this in the first hour. Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be 83, Justices Scalia and Kennedy will be 80, and Justice Breyer will be 78 on the day the new president is inaugurated. Who is going to help you find Supreme Court appointments if it’s Dr. Carson as president?
BC: Well, not so much who’s going to help me as how are we going to make that judgment. So frequently in the past, we’ve made that judgment by interviewing people, asking them certain questions and seeing how they respond. I believe that’s exactly the wrong way to choose a Supreme Court justice. I think what you have to do is look at their life, look at their associations, look at their rulings. And you know, that speaks much louder than any interview process.
HH: Would you expect the person that you nominate would have to be a person of demonstrated religious faith?
BC: I would probably be more favorably disposed towards somebody who was a person of faith, because recognizing that, you know, our Constitution was put together by people who had a Judeo-Christian foundation.
HH: And so what I’m getting at is I agree with that assessment. Do you think atheists can understand a document put together by people with that worldview?
BC: Okay, sorry, I was getting some interference. What did you say?
HH: I was wondering if you think atheists can understand a Constitution and be a good judge when that Constitution was put together by people who were decidedly majoritarian Judeo-Christian believers?
BC: I think it’s possible. You know, I was talking to an atheist today. And we had a good discussion, and concluded that the Constitution protects us all.
HH: Of course.
BC: …quite effectively, as long as we don’t try to force our beliefs upon others. And so I think it’s potentially possible, but it’s not an experiment that I would be all that interested in doing.
HH: Dr. Ben Carson, always a pleasure, continued good luck and energy as you close in on the Iowa Caucuses. Thank you for joining me.
BC: Thank you so much. Always good to be with you.
End of interview.