Ben Carson's campaign admits he never applied to West Point
Despite numerous claims from Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson that he had received a "full scholarship" to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point -- including a mention in his best-selling memoir "Gifted Hands" -- Carson never even applied for admission to the academy, Carson's campaign confirmed to CBS News.
Campaign spokesperson Doug Watts said in a statement, that though Carson's "Senior [ROTC] Commander was in touch with West Point and told Dr. Carson he could get in, Dr. Carson did not seek admission."
The confession comes after a West Point spokeswoman told Politico that the military academy had no record of Carson's acceptance, much less an application.
"If he chose to pursue (the application process) then we would have records indicating such," West Point official Theresa Brinkerhoff told Politico.
Carson's story of his acceptance to the academy, according to his memoir, began with meeting Gen. William Westmoreland, who commanded U.S. forces in Vietnam, in 1969.
As a 17-year-old ROTC student in Detroit, Carson wrote in "Gifted Hands," he had dinner with Gen. Westmoreland and was later "offered a full scholarship to West Point."
"I didn't refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn't where I saw myself going," the memoir states. "As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn't really tempted."
But according to his campaign, the GOP candidate "can't remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson's performance as ROTC City Executive Officer."
Technically, West Point does not offer "full scholarships." The cost of the university is covered if admission is offered, and the student is required to serve time in the military after completing their education. Candidates applying for West Point must also first obtain a nomination -- usually from a member of the U.S. Congress or from a military official.
The revelation that Carson fabricated the story comes just as other details of his biography are being called into question. On Thursday, CNN came out with a deep dive interrogating the retired neurosurgeon's claims of his angry youth. The network could not find any proof of the violent incidents -- like an attempted knifing of a friend -- that Carson has mentioned several times during his presidential campaign.
Carson had a scathing response for the media regarding the investigation into his past.
"It's a bunch of lies. That's what it is," Carson said early Friday on CNN. "A bunch of lies, attempting to say that I'm lying about my history. I think it's pathetic."
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