Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on Friday that he stood behind his Republican presidential rival, Ben Carson, despite the fact that the retired neurosurgeon falsely claimed to have been offered a “scholarship” to the prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Politico broke the news on Friday that Carson repeatedly said he was offered a scholarship to the academy, even though the institution is free to attend for those who are appointed to it.
During an interview on the Fox Business Network on Friday afternoon, host Neil Cavuto asked Bush if his opponent was “finished.”
“I think the life story of Ben Carson is inspirational for all of us,” Bush replied.
“And I believe him to be true. I’m not going to speculate about this.”
Bush said he understood that all presidential candidates needed to be vetted, but that “it ought to be done in an intellectually honest way. If he says he didn’t do it, I trust him.”
“But if he did?” Cavuto pressed.
“I trust him,” Bush repeated.
The “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” host then asked if Bush thought Carson should drop out of the race if it turned out that he had willfully misrepresented his past.
“I believe it. I don’t trust Politico,” Bush said. “If it’s between Politico and Ben Carson, put me in the Ben Carson column, please.”
Bush’s full-throated defense stands in stark contrast to the response of other conservatives, including fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump, who were quick to condemn Carson for playing fast and loose with the truth.
Carson frequently said in his books and speeches that he’d received a “full scholarship” to attend the elite military academy. After the Politico story broke Friday, his campaign aggressively tried to control the fallout, insisting that Carson never claimed to have applied to West Point.
Carson told The New York Times on Friday that the offer was “informal” and his spokesman dismissed the article as “an outright lie.”
Watch Bush’s comments below: