Ben Carson criticized the rules regulating the GOP’s delegate system during a Friday appearance on MSNBC, noting that the Jim Crow system that disenfranchised black voters in the South was also enforced using strict rules.
“During the Jim Crow era, those were the rules too,” Carson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “They were written, everybody knew about them, but that didn’t make them right.”
“I’m not saying this is the same,” the former Republican presidential candidate clarified. “But, you know, I think you get the point. Just because rules are there, just because they’re written by somebody doesn’t mean that they’re right. It doesn’t mean you can’t review the system.”
Carson was on air to back up Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who he has endorsed, for his relentless complaints about the delegate system being “rigged” against populist candidates like him. In stump speeches, at fundraisers, and, most recently, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Trump has argued that the delegate selection process is a form of “voter disenfranchisement.”
The Republican National Committee, which set these rules back in October, released a memo on Friday pointing out that it was the candidates’ responsibility to familiarize themselves with the process.
“The rules surrounding the delegate selection have been clearly laid out in every state and territory and while each state is different, each process is easy to understand for those willing to learn it,” RNC Spokesman Sean Spicer wrote in the memo.
Carson rejected this line of argument, saying the RNC and its leadership should not play such a prominent rule in how delegates are chosen and candidates are nominated.
“Since all of this came up a couple of weeks ago, you’ll notice that Donald Trump is starting to surge again,” Carson said. “And I think that’s the people saying, you know, we don’t like this. We don’t like the manipulation that’s going on. We want our votes to count the way that we want them to. We want to set the direction of the country. And I don’t know why it’s so difficult for the political establishment on both sides to understand that.”