President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development in his incoming administration.
“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump said in a statement released Monday. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.”
The famed retired neurosurgeon is an unorthodox pick to lead the agency which oversees affordable housing programs and enforces fair housing legislation.
In fact, a top Carson aide, Armstrong Williams, told The Hill last month that the former GOP presidential hopeful wasn’t interested in a Cabinet position because, “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
At the time, Carson’s name was being floated to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. And Trump himself confirmed he was considering Carson to lead HUD.
Carson teased later that he was going to accept the appointment, writing on Facebook that he could “make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone” and that an announcement was “forthcoming.”
Carson said he was honored to accept the opportunity to serve in Trump’s administration. “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need,” he said.
Carson was one of Trump’s many rivals for the Republican nomination for president, which was the retired African-American doctor’s first foray into politics. Carson surged briefly in the polls last fall, which prodded Trump to question Carson’s religion (he’s a Seventh-day Adventist).
Trump also brought up Carson’s childhood temperament and anger, issues Carson had written about in his autobiography. Trump said Carson’s temperament was an incurable sickness that he compared to “child molesting.”
Carson grew up in Detroit, Mich., in a home headed by a single mother. Carson told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto last month his upbringing made him well-suited for this particular role.
“I grew up in the inner city and have spent a lot of time there, and have dealt with a lot of patients from that area and recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities,” Carson said.