Ben Carson likens Islamic State to American patriots

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) -- Republican presidential prospect Ben Carson on Thursday compared the Islamic State group to American patriots willing to die for freedom.

In a speech to the Republican National Committee's winter meeting outside San Diego, the former neurosurgeon and conservative favorite praised American patriots for their willingness to give their lives for their beliefs. Then he mentioned the Islamic State group.

"They got the wrong philosophy, but they're willing to die for what they believe, while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness," he said as Republican officials from across the country interrupted him with applause. "We have to change that."

Commonly known as ISIS, the Islamic State group has been responsible for hundreds of deaths across the Middle East in recent months. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for recent beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers. One of the suspects in the recent Paris terror attacks claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.

A Republican National Committee spokesman had no immediate response when asked to comment on Carson's remarks, which came as part of a 35-minute luncheon address.

After the speech, Carson said it's "ridiculous" to suggest he was likening American patriots to the Islamic State.

Carson has drawn criticism for other comparisons. In his speech Thursday, he dismissed such reaction as politically motivated attacks by opponents. He also referred to recent accusations that he had plagiarized sections of a book, telling Republicans that he had "missed a couple" of citations and taking full responsibility for that.

Last spring Carson called the scandal over patient care at veterans hospitals "a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider." In 2013 he called the Affordable Care Act "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," adding that "it is slavery in a way because it is making all of us subservient to the government."

Carson is popular among conservatives across the country, and some have launched a national draft effort encouraging him to run for president. The only high-profile African-American considering a White House bid, he remains little known among much of the Republican establishment.

He said Thursday that he wasn't in a rush to announce his 2016 plans.

"I don't see the urgency," he said. "Let everybody else get in if they feel urgent, but I would have a tendency to do things the way they feel right to me."

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