Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said he would “love” to see Roe vs. Wade overturned, giving states free rein to ban abortion, with almost no exceptions.
“I’m a reasonable person and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen,” Carson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
While the Republican candidate said he opposes abortions for unwanted pregnancies and in cases of rape and incest, the retired neurosurgeon told moderator Chuck Todd he might be open to allowing abortions to preserve the life and health of the mother.
“That’s an extraordinarily rare situation,” Carson said. “But if in that very rare situation it occurred, I believe there’s room to discuss that.”
On “Meet the Press,” the soft-spoken candidate said his past controversial comments have become flash points because they resonate with “people who aren’t really thinking deeply.”
Carson was asked how he would respond if he became the GOP nominee and those contentions remarks are used to attack him. His response: “As people get to know me, they know that I’m not a hateful, pathological person like some people try to make me out to be. And that will be self-evident. So I don’t really worry about that.”
Although Dr. Carson has walked back some of his most controversial statements, in the past he has called President Barack Obama a “psychopath.” He suggested that being gay is a choice because people “go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.” And on “Meet the Press” earlier this year, he said he would not advocate for a Muslim president.
And after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Carson linked gun control to the Holocaust, saying Hitler’s goals would have been diminished if people were armed. “There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first,” Carson said to intense criticism.
On “Meet the Press,” Carson defended those comments. “I think it is generally agreed that it’s much more difficult to dominate people who are armed than people who are not armed,” he said.
“Some people will try to take that and, you know, make it into an anti-Jewish thing, which is foolishness.” He added that many in the Jewish community have told him he was exactly right.
Despite the controversy, Carson has launched to the top of the Republican presidential field in recent polling. A recent Des Moines Regisiter/Bloomberg pollFriday showed Carson with a nine-point lead in Iowa. A Quinnipiac University poll the day before, gave him an eight point advantage over Donald Trump in the state.
When asked about becoming the target of fresh attacks from the business mogul who said he was “super low energy,” Carson said he didn’t want to get into the “mud pit.” However, he added “I will tell you, in terms of energy, I’m not sure that there’s anybody else running who has spent 18 or 20 hours intently operating on somebody.”
Despite Carson making a name for himself as a political outsider, he did take a more establishment position on lifting the debt ceiling to pay the nation’s bills.
When asked if House Republicans should lift the limit that the Treasury Department says will be reached on November 3, Carson told Chuck Todd that because their backs are against the wall, “I would probably do that rather than default.”
Carson added that he would attach definable spending cuts to any increase. “If the president decides that he cannot sign it because it has those cuts in it, it’s on him.”
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com