Ben Carson says he’s still ironing out his role in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, but one thing’s certain: He’ll have a role in helping craft the replacement plan for Obamacare.
“I think the replacement obviously must come first and it must be something that is very appealing and easy to understand. And then, only then, would you dismantle what’s in place,” the retired neurosurgeon said in an interview.
Asked if he intends to be involved in designing that plan, Carson said, “Yes, of course.”
Carson, who ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primary, burst onto the national scene in 2013 when he rebuked Barack Obama’s health care law at the National Prayer breakfast, while the president sat a few feet away. He declined to say whether he was in line for a Cabinet role such as secretary of health and human services, or a broader advisory role.
Trump ran his campaign on a pledge to replace Obamacare with a simpler and less expensive plan. But he’s provided no details on what that plan would look like or how he’d handle the millions of people who have obtained insurance under the law. But the election of a Republican Congress ensures that he’ll have the best chance since Obamacare passed in 2010 to make that campaign pledge a reality.
After dropping out of the primary in March, Carson emerged in the spring as an eager, if sometimes gaffe-prone Trump ally. He advised Trump on his demeanor, sometimes even chiding him publicly when his rhetoric went too far and he worked to help soften Trump’s edges, especially among evangelicals. He also encouraged Trump to engage with the black community and helped organize a trip to an African-American church in Detroit.
In Wednesday’s interview, Carson predicted that many of Trump’s political opponents would come to respect him as president.
“I think actually a lot of the people who have tried to demonize him will be quite shocked when they see who he really is,” Carson said. “He’ll be a very easy person to work with as long as you’re reasonable, as long as you’re fair.”
Carson also said he’d encourage Trump to shelve — at least for now — his campaign promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton
“That certainly should not be the first thing on one’s list,” he said, adding, “The concept of liberty and justice for all is important. Having standards that apply to everybody in the society obviously is an important thing.”
But asked whether he thought Trump would make good on his pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue charges against Clinton, Carson added, “I would leave that to him.”
Carson said he wasn’t surprised — and in fact told Trump — that he wouldn’t win a large share of the black vote, “although he got more than Romney did.”
“When he runs for reelection, he’s going to get a huge amount because people will respond to the fact that he did what he said he was going to do,” Carson said.
Carson said he still has a home in Baltimore – where he built his long neurosurgery career at Johns Hopkins – though he primarily resides in Florida. He said his discussions about joining Trump’s administration leadership would continue – but not immediately.
“I imagine everybody wants a break for a day or two,” he said.