MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — A day after the fourth GOP debate, Ben Carson took a hatchet to Donald Trump's plan to deport millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States.
In an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner Wednesday before a private fundraiser outside of Richmond, Va., Carson took aim at Trump's deportation push, saying it will "hurt" the billionaire candidate more than the Republican Party.
"I think they hurt Donald Trump in the long run," Carson said, referring to the deportation plans. "I think there are enough people who know that there are others in the race that are very reasonable. I don't think he necessarily is the representation of the Republican Party — far from it."
Trump had called for creating a "deportation force" targeting illegal immigrants earlier Wednesday.
"The people that are here, the 11.5 million people here, rounding them up and deporting them may sound good to some people," Carson said. "But it's not pragmatic."
"It also affects the farming industry, the hospitality industry. So, you know, we have to be pragmatic as a nation. There's no reason that they should have to live in the shadows," Carson said.
The famed neurosurgeon doubled down on comments made earlier Wednesday during a press availability in Lynchburg, Va., after his convocation speech at Liberty University, during which he argued that those illegal immigrants who have a "pristine record" should be able to stay in the U.S. as guest workers.
"If they have a pristine record, there's no reason they can't get registered, pay a back tax penalty and pay taxes going forward, and be able to remain here as guest workers," said Carson, who currently sits fourth in the Examiner's latest power rankings.
"If they want to become American citizens and they want to have voting rights, then they should have to do the same thing as anybody else," Carson said. "They shouldn't get extra advantage for having broken the law. That doesn't make any sense, and it offends the sense of justice of many Americans."
"If a majority of Americans say, 'it really doesn't offend my sense of justice, and yes we actually want those people to become citizens,' I would listen," Carson continued, "because this country is of, for and by the people — not of, for and by the government."
The comments from one of the leading GOP candidates came only hours after he delievered the convocation address to students at Liberty University Wednesday morning.