Ben Carson has conceded his story regarding a scholarship to an elite military academy is untrue, according to a report. The admission comes as the Republican candidate sees his popularity in the polls start to rise.
A campaign manager for Carson said on Friday the presidential contender was never offered an appointment to the prestigious military academy, after a reporter for the publication Politico had questioned discrepancies in Carson's story.
Carson had previously said he'd been offered a spot at the US Military Academy at West Point after meeting Gen. William Westmoreland as a 17-year-old in 1969. The episode has figured prominently in the former neurosurgeon's presentation of himself, even appearing as an anecdote in his autobiography "Gifted Hands."
After following up with a spokeswoman for the academy, who cast doubt on Carson's claim that he had even applied to - let alone received a scholarship from - the school, Politico received an emailed response from Carson's team, which seemed to backtrack on the candidate's claims.
"He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC supervisors," the spokesperson said in the email, referring to an episode when Carson was 17. "They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission."
The academy spokeswoman added that Carson could have only received what he called a "scholarship" had he actually gone through with the application process. Furthermore, the Politico article noted, because all accepted students receive full funding from West Point, there's no such thing as a "full scholarship" on offer by the academy.
The news comes as Carson - whose popularity in the polls has been rising - faces questions over claims he has made regarding his past. Another story, regarding an incident in which he supposedly tried to stab a friend, has also faced scrutiny.
blc/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)