Ben Carson and the Republican Field’s Pasts Run Through Boston

BC legend Doug Flutie was the star of Trump's failed football team, and a stoned Jeb nearly flunked out of Phillips Academy.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson opened up about his Boston roots in a room full of New Hampshire voters recently, weaving a less-than-flattering yarn about the violence and squalid living conditions he witnessed here.

“It was a pretty horrible environment,” Carson told the crowd assembled at the RiverWoods Retirement Community in Exeter, reports the Boston Globe. “I saw people lying in the street with bullet holes, stab wounds.”

Carson, along with his mother and brother, moved from Detroit to his aunt and uncle’s home at 37 Stanwood Street in Roxbury in 1959. They moved to a three-decker at 6 Glenway Street in Dorchester before leaving town in 1961. Carson said those two years were marked by “boarded up windows and doors. Sirens. Gangs. Murders,” as well as “large, aggressive roaches.”

“Our heroes were the drug dealers, who brought candy for the kids,” Carson told Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in a 2011 interview. “Both of my cousins who lived with us were killed in that environment.”

Carson, now leading the field in national polls, will spar with his fellow presidential hopefuls in the third Republican debate tonight. He isn’t the only one whose past runs through the Hub, however.

Early on in his never-ending Ronco rotisserie oven infomercial of a campaign, Donald Trump clashed with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who demanded an apology from the real estate mogul to the Mexican immigrants he characterized as rapists while announcing his candidacy, before Trump would be allowed to build in Boston again. “He’s a clown, Marty Walsh,” Trump said, after Walsh challenged him to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. “I don’t even know who he is. This guy, he spends all this time and effort and money on an Olympic Bid, and then he goes out and he’s talking about ice bucket challenges. Get a real mayor.”

Boston has proven a Waterloo of sorts for Trump, and there’s reason to believe he never really wanted to build here in the first place. Boston is conspicuously missing from his portfolio of properties, yet the Azerbaijani capital of Baku is one of the latest cities. When Trump built his USFL team, the New Jersey Generals, he inked Boston College legend Doug Flutie to a $7 million contract. In 1989, Trump’s failed airline, the Trump Shuttle, opened a terminal in Logan Airport. In 2011, Trump tried and failed to purchase the cash-strapped Boston Golf Club in Hingham. In fact, the mere rumor of Trump’s interest galvanized the club’s members into finding a better solution than selling it to him.

Human RAS syndrome Jeb Bush spent four formative years just 24 miles north of Boston, at Phillips Academy in Andover, following in the footsteps of his father George H.W. Bush and brother George W. Bush. Upon arriving there in 1967, as the Globe chronicled in February, Bush smoked a ton of pot and hashish, listened to Steppenwolf, and, by some accounts, bullied younger students. His grades were so bad his first year, he was nearly expelled, though he did excel at tennis.

It was the Globe that broke the news in 2008 that Hewlett-Packard, then led by Carly Fiorina, had been using a European subsidiary and a Dubai-based distribution firm to sell printers in Iran since 1997, in violation of President Bill Clinton’s two executive orders tightening trade sanctions. Fiorina, who served as CEO of HP from 1995 until 2002, has denied any wrongdoing. During Fiorina’s doomed 2010 campaign for Senate, a spokesperson said, “To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws.”

Ted Cruz, like President Barack Obama, attended Harvard Law School, though the two never crossed paths on campus. He lived in Hastings Hall, performed as Rev. Samuel Parris in the law school drama society’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, guzzled Everclear, and played “Super Mario Bros.” in his dorm room.