WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday he is considering Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a departure from previous speculation that the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon would fit best in a health policy job.
"I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD," Trump said in a tweet Tuesday. "I've gotten to know him well -- he's a greatly talented person who loves people!"
Trump's tweet was the latest surprise in the relationship between the two men, who once questioned each other's faith during the GOP primary. Just last week, Carson appeared to pull back from the idea of taking any position in the president-elect's Cabinet, arguing that his preference was to be an outside adviser.
Before that, there was considerable speculation Carson might be well suited to head the Department of Health and Human Services, or lead the Department of Education. Both departments could face significant upheaval under Trump.
Carson, a former Baltimore County man, was expected to meet with Trump in New York on Tuesday.
Carson, 65, suspended his presidential campaign in March following a fifth-place finish on Super Tuesday and disappointing results in other early states. He initially spoke of a willingness to run as Trump's running mate, but later tamped down that talk.
A trailblazing pediatric neurosurgeon at Hopkins, Carson burst onto the political scene in 2013 with a speech at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Observers focused on his criticism of the policies of President Barack Obama, who was sitting feet away during the address.
Two years later, he entered the race for the Republican nomination, arguing that the nation needed an outside voice to fix national politics. His campaign theme would later play on his career as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Hopkins: "Heal, inspire, revive."
The relationship between Trump and Carson was contentious during the primary. Trump often described Carson as "low-energy," and once compared him to a child molester. At one point, the two questioned each other's religious faith.
Several Marylanders are under consideration for jobs in Trump's administration. John Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations, was floated early as a possible secretary of state. Montgomery County Republican David Bossie is considered a contender to lead the Republican National Committee. Rep. Andy Harris, the Baltimore County Republican, has said he would consider working for Trump if a job were offered.