Ben Carson Leads In A National Poll. Here Are 5 Things He Really Said.

Photo: Paul Sancya/AP Photo.
For the first time in the Republican primary race, Ben Carson has a slim lead in national polls. A New York Times/CBS poll places the neurosurgeon in a very narrow lead (within the margin of error) over Donald Trump.

Carson’s success comes despite, or perhaps because of, his penchant for controversial statements. From his rise to national prominence after saying Obamacare is the worst thing to happen in America "since slavery" to his recent comment that gun control led to the Holocaust, he's had quite a run.

When he's pushed on these statements, after the inevitable outcry, the candidate usually says he's being unfairly taken out of context. “Well, if you look at what I said…” or some variation thereof, is a common Carson refrain during testy exchanges.

Here are five of Carson's most controversial statements — and whether or not we think it sounds as if he really meant each one.

The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.

1. Gun Control Caused The Holocaust

During a Meet the Press interview this weekend, Carson was asked about his statements linking gun control with the Holocaust. “So you believe if the Jewish citizenry were armed during the Holocaust, during the ’40s, that they would have been able to stop the Nazis?” Chuck Todd asked.

“Well, look at the whole context in which I’ve said that and which I’ve written about it,” Carson responded.

The context was a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer, who quoted the following passage from Carson’s book: "Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance."

"I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," Carson reiterated to Blitzer.

2. Health Savings Accounts Can Replace Medicare

During the same interview, Todd noted, “You believe that we should get rid of Medicare and replace it with sort of a, I think, from-birth-to-death plan where you would, the government would give you $2,000 a year.”

“Not correct,” Carson said, referring to such claims as “propaganda.” But when he described his actual plan a few seconds later, it sounded remarkably similar. “Right now the annual Medicaid budget, $400-500 billion, 80 million people participate," Carson said. "$5,000. Every man, woman, and child.” It’s unclear where the differences between this plan and the one Todd summarized lie.

3. Undocumented Immigrants Should Have A Path To Citizenship

When asked by Jake Tapper during the second GOP debate about his plan to offer amnesty to undocumented immigrants after a six-month grace period, Carson responded, “Not exactly what I said.”

But given a chance to clarify his stance, the proposal Carson described was precisely that. “People who had a pristine record, we should consider allowing them to become guest workers,” Carson explained. “And they have a six-month period to do that.”

One drone strike, boom, and they're gone.

4. Drone Strikes Can Help Secure The Border

“You said the United States should consider using drone strikes to secure the border with Mexico,” CNN’s Jim Acosta pointed out.

“It was quite clear what I was talking about,” Carson responded. “In no way did I suggest that drones be used to kill people.”

Was it? Discussing immigration and the border with CBS5 News, Carson said, “You look at some of these caves and things out there. One drone strike, boom, and they're gone.”

5. A Muslim Should Not Be Elected President

Asking Carson about one of his biggest controversies to date, Carson lambasted the media for twisting his words. At the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C, Carson said, “I went back and forth with one commentator: ‘But you said that somebody who was of the Islamic faith and a Muslim could not be president of the United States.’ Well, you know, I said, ‘Will you go back and read the whole transcript?’”

While being interviewed by Todd on Meet the Press, Carson was asked directly, “Do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?”

“No I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not,” Carson replied.

Still, Carson insists, it’s not he who has the problem. “I just am so tickled with the media,” he said. “I mean, these guys, they’re like they just don’t get it, you know?”

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But take heart. There won’t be a President Trump. Not if I and millions of other women in this country have anything to say about it