Ben Carson Tones It Way, Way Down in Baltimore Visit

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Ben Carson
Ben Carson, from his appearance at CPAC earlier this year. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson participated in a roundtable discussion with community leaders in Baltimore on Thursday, and, boy, did he show some restraint.

Inflammatory statements with conservative appeal have previously been Carson’s bread and butter. But recently, he’s been switching up his approach. Just last month he spoke kindly of Al Sharpton, a common target of conservative ire. And his response to the fallout surrounding the death of Freddie Gray went way off the far-right Republican script.

Last week, Carson used his Facebook page to weigh in on the implications of Gray’s injuries. “It would be almost impossible to acquire such an injury by simply rolling around in a van, regardless of how violently,” Carson wrote. “Therefore, there is a high likelihood that direct trauma occurred. Let us hope that whoever inflicted said trauma did not intend to yield such an outcome.” He went on to call the quick charges from State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby “a great start.”

At yesterday’s roundtable (“with a largely African American group of clergy members and businesspeople”) Carson acknowledged the reality of police violence but said it is typically directed at people who are “doing some wrong stuff.” He refrained from criticizing the charges facing the six police officers involved in the arrest and transport of Gray, while admitting that he “probably wouldn’t have charged them to that degree.” He even allowed that “maybe the intentions [behind Obamacare] were good,” despite having previously compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery.

According to Politico, he didn’t necessarily win the crowd over, which “was a more conservative one than Carson might find in the broader black community.” But some of in attendance considered the discussion “a start.”

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