Ben Carson: ‘Of course I know what an REO is’

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, in an exclusive interview with The Hill’s Bob Cusack on Wednesday, defended his knowledge of government policy following a viral exchange in which he seemed to confuse a housing acronym with Oreo cookies.

During congressional testimony Tuesday, Carson appeared not to know what REO — real estate-owned — foreclosure meant when pressed by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.).

“She asked me what the O is,” Carson said on Wednesday. “We throw around acronyms all the time, particularly in government. You don’t really think about, ‘What do the letters mean?’ Of course I know what an REO is. Of course I know what the foreclosure portfolio is.”

Carson’s initial response after the House hearing was tongue in cheek, tweeting that he would send a pack of Oreos to Porter.

But on Wednesday Carson appeared to target Porter’s line of questioning, saying, “One of the reasons that I told her I would like for her to meet with our people is because she was a subject matter expert in that 10 or 15 years ago.”

“At that time we did have a lot of REO properties, we had over 65,000 of them. Now we have only about 6,500 and we do everything we can to keep families who are affected from foreclosure,” he added. “Thats why the number is down so low. I think that she obviously is thinking about the way things used to be and has no idea what’s going on now.”

Carson also criticized the aftermath of the exchange.

“They try to take those moments to ridicule people because they’ve probably read Saul Alinsky’s book and they know that’s one of the rules,” he said. “I just hope for the sake of our young people, and for the sake of our nation in general, that we can move beyond the silliness and actually begin to  address the problems.”

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