Carson Says He’s Ready To Step Down As Commencement Speaker At Johns Hopkins (VIDEO)

Dr. Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who’s emerged as a star on the right, said Friday that he wants to restore civility to American political discourse and acknowledged that he is prepared to step down as commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University.

“My goal is to help move our country in the right direction. My goal is to get people to be able to have discussions about things about which they disagree in a civil way, not call each other names and get into all kinds of infantile type of discussions,” Carson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “We don’t need to do that. We have so many pressing problems in our country and at some point we’re going to have to tone down the rhetoric and just move toward solutions to the multitudinous problems or we’re going to go right down the tubes just like every other pinnacle nation that has done many of the same things we’re doing. We need to talk about these things.”

Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, on Tuesday called hetero-sexual marriage “a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

Students at Johns Hopkins have since circulated a petition to replace Carson, who’s retiring this year, as the university’s commencement speaker. He told Mitchell that he’s willing to honor those students’ wishes.

“Absolutely. I would say this is their day and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade,” Carson said, adding that that he didn’t want to make such an announcement on television.

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Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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