Live Blog: Ben Carson at Veteran's Patriot Action Conference in South Carolina


9:40 a.m. The DPolitics team arrives at the convention center in Charleston, S.C. after a 12 hour drive down South on Thursday.

9:44 a.m. We have one immediate impression when we walk into the room where Ben Carson is set to speak: everyone is white. Maybe not a surprise though since the event is for older military veterans.

9:46 a.m. Executive Director of the Voter Integrity Project Jay Delancey is speaking on stage to the room of about 40 people about the importance of reporting voter fraud.

9:47 a.m. A man in a blue vest and white hair goes up to the front of the room to relay his own experience with reporting voter fraud. He says about 25 years ago he noticed homeless people from the same shelter were voting on the same credentials, and he complained about it, "and I was crucified in Charleston." He makes a plea for people to report voter fraud, and Delancey thanks the man, who apparently (ironically) goes by the name Carl Marx.

9:50 a.m. A blonde woman from Florida goes to the mic to ask the speaker about the "dead vote" in her state. "People will go visit family, kick the bucket, and we never hear anything about it," she said. She wants to see when people die that they have a death certificate that can be accessed.

9:55 a.m. Delancey talks about states that matter in elections, saying it's "sad to see Texas isn't as red as it used to be — don't assume we're red, we'll be red forever ... we're not partisan, but I know you're Republican."

10:14 a.m. A speaker introducing Ben Carson recounts his medical career, mentioning that in 2004 he was appointed to a bioethics committee, kind of like our very own Penn President Amy Gutmann, who is the chairwoman of the Presidential Commission on the Study of Bioethical Issues.

10:20 a.m. Ben Carson is on stage, talking about his fascination with the military as a young boy, leading him to the decision to join ROTC. "If I joined ROTC, then I could wear the ROTC uniform," he remembered thinking at the time.

10:23 a.m. "I really think that if you don't get the military right, nothing else matters," Carson says, adding that we need to focus on "rearming our military."

10:25 a.m. Reagan reference No. 1 of the day: Carson notes how the former president was criticized for his concept of star wars, from which we gained a lot of new technology that is still valuable to us today.

10:28 a.m. The threat to cyber security today is comparable to World War II warfare, Carson says. Attacking our computer systems "would be every bit as devastating as dropping a bomb on Hiroshima."

10:30 a.m. Carson traces the ISIS problem back to Muhammad, noting he "had a quest for domination" after leaving Mecca. He "wiped out all the Jews" and "started raping little girls," Carson said.

10:37 a.m. "No disrespect to the pope," Carson says, when talking about the need to secure our borders, trailing off. Too soon?

10:38 a.m. "It's not that we can't do it, we won't do it," Carson says. He adds that these immigrants will be "activated" at some point. "San Bernardino is not the last incident for us, I guarantee it," he adds.

10:40 a.m. On marijuana legalization: "We already have enough people with low IQ, so to be importing it from elsewhere makes absolutely no sense whatsoever," Carson says.

10:41 a.m. We can't fear being perceived as Islamophobic when investigating possible terrorist threats, Carson says. We need to follow social media and go where it takes us, he argues.

10:42 a.m. ISIS wants "civilization jihad," eroding our system  and taking over, Carson says. They think it would be particularly easy to do in the United States because "Americans would be so concerned with political correctness that they would try to report us while we destroy them," he adds.

10:43 a.m. Carson's Detroit roots are a credential proving he's not Islamophobic because of its large Muslim population, he says. 

10:48 a.m. "It's not the evil rich people, it's the evil government that keeps driving this debt to unsustainable levels," Carson says. If he wanted to destroy this country, he says, he would "first try to divide the people," then have everyone hate each other, would invite people from other countries and give them benefits, telling them they could go to college for free and then cut the military. "Any relation to what's going on I'm sure is coincidental," he adds, to chuckles from the room.

10:52 a.m. "Education is a major security issue for our country," Carson says. We need to keep students from dropping out of school so they can stay off of welfare, he adds.

10:54 a.m. "When I was in Israel not too long ago, I could not find one person who did not think we had turned our backs on them," Carson says in response to a question on the importance of the alliance with Israel. As a Judeo-Christian country, he says, we should be supporting them.

10:56 a.m. "There are lots of veterans in the race who say they support veterans and you're the only one who showed up," an audience member thanks Carson.

11:00 a.m. A woman with long curly hair in a leather jacket says at the microphone to point out something she feels has been lost in the debates. When the candidates say that the Iraq war was a mistake, “as a marine who served in Iraq, that is incredibly demoralizing,” she says. Carson responds that what was wrong about the war was the way we destabilized the government.

11:03 a.m. On keeping women out of combat: it frees up the men to do things that women are better suited for, Carson says. But by the same token, there are some men who aren't quite suited for combat either, so we need to look at it on an individual level, he adds.

11:07 a.m. Should the next president be able to get a high level security clearance? asks a gray-haired man in round glasses and a blazer. "Well certainly if it's Hillary, the answer is no," Carson says to snickers from the crowd.

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