U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told Republicans gathered at the Texas GOP convention gala Friday night that they must unify ahead of the fall midterm elections.
Party unity, along with the tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks enacted under President Donald Trump, can ensure that no “blue wave” flips the Republican stronghold in Texas, Carson said.
“I hear this talk about Texas turning to a blue state, but I gotta tell you, from the energy I see in this room I think it’s going to stay safely where it is,” Carson told an audience of several hundred assembled in a Henry B. González Convention Center ballroom. “It’s not a problem.”
Carson’s remarks followed a day of speeches delivered by the state’s top Republican leadership, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but also a lengthy floor fight over picking the state party chair.
Patrick stressed in his remarks that changes would come to the Texas House of Representatives following the departure of Speaker Joe Straus, who sought to kill a bathroom bill pursued by the Lt. Gov. during the last legislative session. Straus was ultimately censured by the party for his moderate stances. The party re-elected chairman James Dickey later in the day after hours of procedural fighting between Dickey’s backers and delegates supporting the candidacy of Cindy Ashe, who had questioned the strength of Dickey’s support for Trump.
Carson, who walked onto the ballroom stage with the intro to The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony playing, began his speech with a brief reference to the day’s earlier disputes, stressing the importance of unifying as a party in the face of an energized Democratic base that’s eager to gain control of Congress in the November elections.
“I know there was some competition today, but you know once that’s over with we need to learn how to get behind whoever the person is and we need to support them strongly,” Carson said. “That’s what the Democrats do. They all get together, and some of them have big disagreements, but they’re smart enough to realize that there’s strength in unity.”
He said that conservatives need to remain steadfast in their beliefs in the face of “political correctness” and the “extreme left wing” that presents a threat of ideological indoctrination through false information.
He immediately went on to criticize discussion of gender identities with young children, calling it “a bunch of crap” to ignore science and genetics to instead focus on feelings.
“What little boy growing up didn’t try on his mother’s high heels? Or what little girl growing up didn’t put on her father’s tool belt?” Carson said. “That doesn’t mean that they have physiologically changed to the next sex, and yet we have people telling them that today.”
“Can you imagine how confusing it must be for the children to be told that,” Carson said.
In his closed-door address, Carson, who served as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the John Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly 30 years before entering the 2016 presidential race, made no mention of housing or HUD. As HUD secretary, Carson oversees a department with a budget of nearly $46 billion.
San Antonio lays claim to two former secretaries of Housing and Urban Development. Henry Cisneros, San Antonio’s mayor from 1981 to 1989, served as secretary under President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1993 to 1997. Julían Castro, mayor from 2009 to 2014, had the job under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017.
Without mentioning any department by name, Carson indicated that success in federal government is measured by how many people “get out of a welfare program.”
Carson warned that if Democrats wrest the House and Senate from Republican control, the result would be endless investigational hearings, a possible impeachment of Trump over “nothing,” a rollback of the tax cuts, and a return to “wimp” status on the international stage. He told the audience members, some of the 9,000 delegates to the state GOP’s biennial gathering, to continue to work at energizing Republican voters and getting them to the polls.
“We have got to get the information out to folks,” Carson said.