Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson proposed he would go on a "listening tour" in order to prepare for his role as the secretary of housing and urban development, he told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee during his confirmation hearing Thursday.
"I do believe that government is extraordinarily important and one of the things I want to do, instead of just listening to the sage people of D.C. … I want to go on a listening tour," Carson said. "I want to hear from people with boots on the ground who are administering programs."
Carson diverged significantly from his prepared remarks in his opening statement; he had no mention of any plans for a listening tour in his prepared testimony. The tour has been in the works, though: "Dr. Carson is spending time learning this stuff, and he's passionate about it given where he came from," someone familiar with the transition process told BuzzFeed News in December. "He sees it as an opportunity to create a pathway for others, for a lot of people who are struggling and looking for an opportunity to be upward mobile, and to make them feel empowered."
Carson formerly said through a surrogate that because he "has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency, the last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."