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Monday 29 May 2017

Donald Trump picks former campaign rival Ben Carson for housing role

Ben Carson has been chosen to become secretary of the department of housing and urban development (AP)
Ben Carson has been chosen to become secretary of the department of housing and urban development (AP)

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former campaign rival Ben Carson to become secretary of the department of housing and urban development.

Mr Trump's decision, announced by his transition office, comes as the real estate mogul continues a series of interviews and meetings with aides and other deliberations aimed at forming his administration.

In a statement, Mr Trump said he was "thrilled to nominate" Mr Carson, saying he "has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities".

Mr Carson had been coy about joining the new administration, saying shortly after Mr Trump's election victory that he was not certain he would fit into a cabinet-style role.

The discussion at that time centred on speculation that Mr Carson might be selected to head the sprawling department of health and human services.

Mr Trump's statement said: "Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans."

Mr Carson was among the 16 Republican candidates who challenged Mr Trump for the Republican nomination. He was a favourite of religious conservatives and a strong fundraiser, but his team burned through money quickly and he failed to win any of the early primary contests.

Mr Trump treated Mr Carson harshly during the primaries, saying he had a "pathological temper". Still, Mr Carson quickly endorsed Mr Trump after he dropped out of the contest.

As a Trump supporter, Mr Carson was both loyal and critical. He conceded that Mr Trump had "major defects" and said at one point that he would have preferred a scenario other than Mr Trump winning the Republican primary.

Last week, Mr Trump announced that he planned to nominate former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as his treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the commerce department.

He chose Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education and Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, to be transportation secretary. Mr Trump also turned to retired Marine General James Mattis to be secretary of defence.

A retired neurosurgeon, Mr Carson has often recounted his childhood as the son of a single mother in inner-city Detroit in his books and motivational speeches.]

In his 1996 autobiography Gifted Hands, Mr Carson wrote of the humiliation he felt using food stamps from his mother to pay for bread and milk, and said how he began to excel at school only after receiving a free pair of glasses that allowed him to see the lessons written on boards.

AP

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