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0000017a-3b40-d913-abfe-bf44a4f90000Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 16 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time.

Ben Carson: Remarks About Muslims Taken Out Of Context

Howard Wilkinson

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, campaigning in Sharonville Tuesday, told reporters his remarks on national TV Sunday saying he opposed a Muslim serving in the White House were taken out of context.

It was his first public appearance since he went on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, and said he could not support a Muslim in the White House because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution.

The retired neurosurgeon says his political opponents are ignoring what he really said.

“It seems hard for people to actually hear English and understand it,’’ Carson said, as hundreds of his supporters waited in a nearby exhibit hall for his rally at the Sharonville Convention Center.

“I would support anyone, regardless of their background, if, in fact, they embraced American values and our Constitution and are willing to place that above their beliefs,’’ Carson told reporters Tuesday.

The furor began Sunday morning on NBC’s Meet the Press, when Carson said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Since then, Democrats and some of his GOP presidential opponents have criticized his remarks. One of them, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, said in Iowa that the constitution specifies that there is no religious test for public office. Others have called on Carson to apologize.

Carson was not apologetic Tuesday in Sharonville.

This nation, Carson said, “has to stop trying to fit everything into a PC (politically correct) culture. Where people say, ‘let’s not try to understand what a person is saying; let’s just attack, attack, attack.’”

Carson had two rallies in Ohio Tuesday – on in Sharonville and in the afternoon in Cedarville. Wednesday, he campaigns in Michigan. Neither are early primary states like New Hampshire or South Carolina.

Asked why he was campaigning in Ohio, Carson said “I have to be someplace; and Ohio is as good as any place.”

Carson appeals to many of the Christian conservatives  in the Republican Party. A large crowd of supporters gathered in the convention center’s second floor exhibit hall, listening to religious and patriotic music while waiting for the candidate to arrive.

Cincinnati Council Member Charlie Winburn, a Republican and a minister, delivered the invocation just before Carson arrived on stage for a 40-minute speech.

Carson spoke briefly to the crowd about the controversy over his remarks about Muslims.

“We are not a theocracy,’’ Carson said. “If I am elected president, I will respect all other religions. But that first Christmas, we’re going to have a bang-up time in the White House.”

He talked at length about his difficult childhood in Detroit – about his hard-working mother and a father who frittered away the family’s money on drugs, and alcohol. He said his mother divorced his father when she discovered he was a bigamist.

He lived in a crime-ridden area; and that is why “I really never believed I would live to be 25 years old.”