Aug 13, 2015 11:34 PM

Steinhauser: In NH1 News Intv., Carson defends past fetal tissue research; calls debate theatrics 'foolishness'

NH1 Political Director -

MANCHESTER – Ben Carson says there’s no contradiction between his current pro-life views and his past use of fetal tissue for medical research.

The retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate was repeatedly questioned Thursday about the issue as he campaigned in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

In a one-on-one interview with NH1 News, Carson said his research, which took place in 1992, had “nothing to do with killing babies.”

Carson, along with many of his rivals for the GOP nomination, is calling for the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood, after secretly recorded videos that purportedly showed officials tied to the organization discussing obtaining tissues from aborted fetuses came to light.

News of Carson’s past medical research with fetal tissue went viral Wednesday night after a fellow doctor posted on her blog details of Carson’s 1992 research using fetal tissue.

Asked by NH1 News if there’s any contradiction between his past research and his current political views, Carson said “no, because whenever a pathologist receives a tissue specimen, from whatever source, they make slides and the keep certain of the slides in what we call a tissue bank. And these are maintained for decades. So if I take a tumor out of a small child and we’re trying to figure out what it the origin of that tissue, then what the pathologist will do is take that and compare it with tissue specimens that have been obtained over the years, that’s what you’re talking about. That has nothing to do with killing babies and taking their tissue and experimenting on it. Completely different thing.”

Asked if the new revelations were part of a political attack, Carson said “I’m sure there are people out there trying to dig up stuff and they don’t even know what they’re talking about. It’s actually kind of funny for anybody who knows anything about this that they would be that stupid. But you know I expect that.”

Thursday evening Carson took to his Facebook page to continue to defend his past actions, writing “today I was accused by the press as having done research on fetal tissue. It simply is not true.”

“I am sickened by the attack that I, after having spent my entire life caring for children, had something to do with aborting a child and harvesting organs. My medical specialty is the human brain and even I am amazed at what it is capable of doing. Please know these attacks are pathetic attempts to blunt our progress,” Carson wrote.

Carson spoke with NH1 News Thursday afternoon, after greeting lunchtime customers at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester. The presidential candidate was escorted around the restaurant by former five-term Manchester Mayor Ray Wieczorek. While there, Carson shook hands with Democratic Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, manager and co-owner of the restaurant, which has been in his family’s hands for nearly a century.

Carson staying out of 'mud pit'

The trip to the Granite State was Carson’s first since last week’s Republican presidential debate in Cleveland. The debate, the first in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination, was dominated by theatrics, many of which centered on front runner Donald Trump.

Carson described some of the action from the debate as “foolishness.”

“I never get into that mud pit. And I would have thought perhaps that Republicans would have learned from the last go around. You know, not to get into the mud pit and sling mud at each other. That was not beneficial in the long run. And maybe at some point we will learn that lesson,” he said.

Earlier this week former top Trump political adviser Roger Stone suggested a Trump-Carson ticket. But Carson didn’t seem enamored with such a proposal, telling NH1 News that “it’s not something that I would be interested in discussing at this stage of the game because I’m running for president, I’m not running for any other position.”

As Carson arrived in New Hampshire, a new CNN poll indicated that he had jumped to second place among likely caucus goers in Iowa, which holds the first contest in the race for the White House. But standing in the latest polls in New Hampshire is not as favorable. Asked if the Hawkeye State’s more conservative GOP electorate is more favorable to him, Carson said “I think time will tell the story. I have spent more time there (Iowa) than I have here. And when I’ve spent an equivalent amount of time here then we can probably make a better assessment.”


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