On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he has chosen his former primary opponent Dr. Ben Carson to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development, praising the retired neurosurgeon for being “passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”
After a contentious primary battle, which featured some strong personal jabs between the candidates, the two men “buried the hatchet” after Trump secured the Republican nomination, Carson serving as a surrogate for Trump leading up to the upset election. After weeks of rumors that Carson was Trump’s choice to head the department, which has a $47 billion budget, the president-elect made it official this week.
“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” said Trump in a statement on Monday. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
On the campaign trail, Trump promised that his administration would effect meaningful change for economically depressed Americans, particularly struggling minority communities like those in Detroit. In his appeal to minorities, Trump famously asked after decades of failed Democrat policies, “What do you have to lose?”
Carson’s top aide told The Hill in November that Carson was not interested in a cabinet position due to having “no government experience” and having “never run a federal agency,” but clearly Carson’s desire to forward the Republican agenda and personal commitment to helping those in the inner city have eclipsed his initial reluctance.
Carson has repeatedly highlighted the challenges for inner city communities and has been highly critical of many progressive government programs, which he has criticized as building dependency on the government, particularly among minorities. During the presidential campaign, Carson took Trump on a tour of some of the economically devastated neighborhoods in Detroit, where he grew up with his single mother. In a recent interview on Fox News, Carson underscored that he knows personally how important it is as a country to address those challenges.
“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. “And we have to get beyond the promises and start really doing something.”