CNN's Martin Savidge With Ben Carson On Trump And African American Voters (Transcript)


Saturday on CNN Newsroom, Martin Savidge spoke with Dr. Ben Carson about the relationship of Donald Trump with African American voters.

Here is a complete transcript of the interview, courtesy of CNN:

MARTIN SAVIDGE, HOST: To talk about this strategy and whether it will have any effect on Trump's standing among minorities, I'm joined now by former Republican presidential candidate and advisor to Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson. Thank you, sir, for joining me.

DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: Let's talk about this. What do you have to lose may communicate something to people but I'm not sure it's really the best pitch. I do believe that Donald Trump has a message he could communicate, what I'm asking of you is when you just say, What the hell have you got to lose, is that really respectfully making an approach to an electorate?

CARSON: Again, and all of these case, I think it's important to look beyond the words and ask what is the message that's being communicated. Basically what he's saying is after the last several decades where you've had a lot of people promising, you know, all kinds of things which have only led to dependency and really haven't led to the empowerment of people, he's saying listen to some of the things that I have.

Some of the things like giving people school choice because you have so many people, particularly in inner cities who are stuck in these horrible schools. And, of course, that means a lot in terms of what happens to you for the rest of your life.

He's talking about, you know, looking at the prison system. We have five percent of the world's population, 25 percent of the prison inmates. Obviously there's a problem there. We need to look at sentencing, but we also need to look at what is leading to such a large number of people from certain demographics ending up in our system  and dealing with those issues.

And, also, when they're in prison let's look at ways that we can give them some education and some skills as well as a real job when they come out so that their recidivism rate isn't so high. These are economics...

SAVIDGE: ...   These are all really valid points, and why didn't he make them as opposed to just saying, What the hell have you got to lose?

CARSON: He will be making those but it's being done on a gradual steps.

Remember the Republican party traditionally has really not reached out to the African-American community, to the hispanic community in the way that they should have. This is the beginning of that process. It will continue, it will roll (ph) the right way, but the key thing here is we're all in the same boat and if part of the boat sinks the rest of are going down too.

You can go to the most luxurious part of the boat but you're still going down and we need to begin to help americans realize that we are not each other's enemies, and the success of one is the success of the next. We can't -- we gotta get away from this politics of division which is useful...

SAVIDGE: ... Why not change this argument...

CARSON: ...  because it gives them a power base, but it's not helpful to us as Americans.

SAVIDGE: Why not make this argument, or make this statement in a predominantly African-American community? Why not take it directly to the people to whom you're speaking rather than speaking at a predominantly white neighborhood?

CARSON: Well, it's relevant to everybody, but to answer your question specifically he will be going to some predominantly black areas. So that is in the process of happening. You will see that roll out.

SAVIDGE: But we're talking about 80 days. There's not a whole lot of time. Eighty days is certainly not two weeks, but time is growing shorter. This is something that seems like should have been focused on a while back, and by focusing on it now makes it look like he's in trouble, he's reaching for someone else to help.

CARSON: I'm sure you know the history of political elections in this country, and if that's the case you also know that it's the last six weeks when people really start paying attention.

You've got your 30 percent who are going to vote for Hillary Clinton no matter what, your 30 percent who are going to vote for Donald Trump no matter what. And then you have the group in the middle we have to start concentrating on. I wish it wasn't like that, and I hope in the future it won't be like that, but we have to deal with reality.

SAVIDGE: What do you think of the changes that took place this week in Donald Trump's campaign?

CARSON: It's sort of like -- since we're coming to the end of the Olympics, a good example, you know, is a race. A relay race. You have your starter, Corey did a great job as the starter. Then you have your middle man, which was Manafort. Did a tremendous job, particularly with the delegate situation being very precarious...

SAVIDGE: ...Get's him through the convention...

CARSON: ...  and now we bring in the finishers.

SAVIDGE: And you think, what? This is the -- is this the last change we're going to see before we get to, say, the finish line? Or could there be another hand off?

CARSON: I'll tell you what I always used to tell patients, why guess when soon you'll know?

You know, obviously this is working. I think you're going to start seeing some changes in the polls as people start paying attention, but really it's not about the polls. It's about, you know, two different visions. You have one vision where Hillary Clinton says let's take the pie, divide it up and distribute it equitably, and you have another vision where you have Donald Trump who says let's make a whole lot of pies and, so that everybody can have some.

SAVIDGE: What makes you think it's working? The reason I say that is that we just mentioned polling in the state of Virginia that certainly showed that battleground state now very lopsided for Hillary Clinton. One poll, grant you, but that's an indicator and it's not a good one for Donald Trump.

CARSON: As you know there is a lag in the polls. It's never instantaneous. Ask me that question a week from today because I think you will see a difference.

SAVIDGE: Do you think we will see a difference in the message and the way that Donald Trump speaks, or do you think he will just be a man who speaks as he always has, from the hip?

CARSON: I think you already see that he's really beginning to address the issues. That's what this campaign is about. One Candidate will take us in a very different direction than the other one will and it's not really about us, it's about our children and our grandchildren.

Americans really need to take a serious time and study the history of this country and why it was formulated. And then look at the trend, and what's going on right now and ask yourself is that a trend that you want to continue, or do we want to make a turn here and sort of get back to some of the values and principles that made this the greatest nation the world has ever known?

We need to make that decision, it's critical.

SAVIDGE: We definitely need to vote. Dr. Ben Carson, thank you very much for joining us, we appreciate it.

CARSON: A pleasure.