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Trump picks one-time rival Ben Carson for cabinet post

WASHINGTON US President-elect Donald Trump yesterday chose Dr Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who challenged him for the Republican nomination, to turn around troubled US inner cities as secretary of housing and urban development.

Dr Carson, a religious conservative, has no background in housing policy but has cited his poor childhood in Detroit as a qualification for the job.

He is the first African American selected by Mr Trump for his cabinet, AFP reported.

"Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities," Mr Trump said in a statement.

"We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities."

Dr Carson said: "I feel I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities most in need.

"We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation's housing needs are met."

He told Fox News last month: "I grew up in the inner city.

"I've spent a lot of time there and have dealt with a lot of patients from that area."

Dr Carson briefly led the Republican presidential pack during the primaries, offering voters an unruffled persona that contrasted sharply with the high-decibel slugfest around him.

STUMBLED

His bid, which initially gained support among Christian conservatives, ultimately fizzled as he stumbled when offering concrete policies and answering questions about key issues.

The Seventh Day Adventist had presented himself as an alternative to the bombastic Trump, preaching tolerance and compromise but sometimes unleashing blunt rhetoric.

Mr Trump mercilessly mocked him on the campaign trail, accusing Dr Carson of having a "pathological" temper.

Dr Carson nevertheless endorsed the real estate billionaire after withdrawing from the race in March.

He described his former rival as "a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America".

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