Carson flubs Thomas Jefferson's role in the Constitution

Portrait of former President Thomas Jefferson

Story highlights

  • Ben Carson incorrectly claims Jefferson crafted founding document
  • Even in his own book, Carson had noted Jefferson was in France at the time

(CNN)Asked during a Sunday interview on C-SPAN to name the Founding Father "who impressed you most," retired neurosurgeon and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson chose the man from Monticello.

"Jefferson," he said, "seemed to have very deep insight into the way that people would react and tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control people's natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government."
    But as the Washington Post noted Monday morning, Jefferson was a no-show at the Constitutional Convention and was instead an ocean away in Paris as Minister to France, while his North American-based colleagues were crafting the foundational document.
    In fact, in Carson's own book, "A More Perfect Union," he describes Jefferson as being "missing in action" during the time of the Constitution's writing.
    The Carson campaign in an email told CNN the candidate's comments were meant to reference Jefferson's influence, via written correspondence, on the initial drafting and his long support for a Bill of Rights, which would become part of an amended Constitution in 1791.
    Carson dismissed the mix-up in an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Monday night, saying that Jefferson had been in constant communication with the Constitution's architects.
    He said criticism of his reference to Jefferson drafting the Constitution comes from a media obsessed with saying "ah, gotcha."
    "People spend too much time looking at little words and phrases without looking at the implications or the big picture," he said.