Ben Carson said the media was looking for a way to “tarnish” him after details about his offer to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on a "full scholarship" came into question Friday.
“There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything, they have been talking to everybody I’ve ever known, everybody I’ve ever seen,” Carson said Friday night.
“My prediction is that all you guys trying to pile on is actually going to help me,” Carson told reporters, saying that his supporters “understand that this is a witch-hunt.”
“I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama,” Carson added.
Friday brought a report from Politico claiming that Carson fabricated a story about being admitted to West Point.
Carson's campaign confirmed to NBC News that the surging Republican presidential candidate never applied to the elite academy, despite writing in his 1996 book "Gifted Hands" that he was "offered a full scholarship to West Point" after attending a dinner where he was introduced to West Point personnel by his ROTC supervisors.
Ben Carson told the New York Times: "I don't remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me — they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine."
"It was, you know, an informal 'with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point,'" he added.
“They were saying you would be a tremendous addition to the military and we can get you into West Point with a full scholarship,” Carson later told reporters.
“They were very impressed with what I had done,” Carson said. “I interpreted it as an offer.”
Even though West Point does not offer "full scholarships" and all costs are covered for applicants who are offered admission, Carson said the academy uses the words “full scholarship” on their website. On West Point’s admissions page, the school uses the wording: “expenses fully paid.”
The retired neurosurgeon did not specifically say in his book that he applied to West Point, in fact he wrote that the only school he applied to was the one he ultimately attended — Yale.
But the confusion about a key biographical detail comes as other well-known tales of Carson's youth are being questioned, including his story about almost stabbing a friend in his early teens.
Carson, on Friday, would not share the name of that person, saying the person did “not want their name revealed.”
He also did not give the names of the people who he said offered him admission to West Point because he didn’t remember their names. “I bet you don’t remember all the names of the people you talked to 50 years ago,” he told reporters in one of several testy answers to questions Friday night.
A spokesperson from West Point told NBC News they have no record of anything being offered to Carson, but that is not uncommon for an applicant at that time who does not ultimately seek admission.