US presidential candidate Carson: Syrian refugee camps 'quite nice'

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Ben Carson Travels to Jordan to Visit Syrian Refugees

WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on Sunday that he found a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to be "quite nice" and that people there would rather stay or return home to Syria than come to the United States.

But Carson, one of the leaders in the polls in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, offered few details in a round of television interviews from Jordan about how he would work to defeat Islamic State militants and stabilize Syria to enable the refugees' return.

After meeting with refugees at a camp in Jordan, Carson, 64, told CNN that "their true desire is to be resettled in Syria."

Ten facts you should know about Ben Carson:

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Ben Carson facts you should know
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US presidential candidate Carson: Syrian refugee camps 'quite nice'

1. He is a weekly opinion columnist for The Washington Times.

(Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

2. He is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and his father was a minister.

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

3. He was raised in Detroit by a single mother, alongside is older brother Curtis.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

4. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States.

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

5. He was the first doctor to successfully separate occipital craniopagus twins in 1987.

(AP Photo/Fred Kraft)

6. He has written six bestselling books, all by an international Christian media and publishing company.

(AP Photo/Brian Witte)

7. He has criticized “political correctness” because he says it goes against freedom of expression, and became known for this idea when he was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

8. There’s a Lifetime movie made about his life, with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the starring role.


(Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

9. Before November of 2014 Carson was not a member of any political party.

(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

10. He and his wife started a scholarship fund called "Carson scholars fund" in 1994 which has so far awarded 6,700 scholarships to kids for "academic excellence and humanitarian qualities."

(Photo by Louis Myrie/WireImage via Getty)

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"But they are satisfied to be in the refugee camps if the refugee camps are adequately funded. Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities that are really quite nice. And there (are) all kind of things that make life more tolerable," he added.

Speaking from Jordan, Carson also defended comments he made earlier this month in which he compared Americans' attitude towards Syrian refugees to fears of a rabid dog.

"The Syrians and the people here completely understood what I was saying," Carson told NBC's "Meet the Press." "It's only the news media in our country that thinks that you're calling Syrians dogs. They understand here that we're talking about the jihadists, the Islamic terrorists."

Carson and other Republican presidential candidates have criticized President Barack Obama's plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, citing the risk that militants could slip through. The Obama administration has emphasized the refugee program vetting process.

SEE ALSO: Republican Trump drops 12 percentage points in poll

A retired neurosurgeon who has faced scrutiny over his foreign policy credentials, Carson visited the Zaatari camp for refugees fleeing Syria's civil war, and said he also spoke with medical personnel, humanitarian workers and government officials.

In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Carson called for increased U.S. aid for regional refugee efforts such as those in Jordan.

He said believes that greater contributions to such facilities in the region could eliminate security risks associated with granting U.S. asylum to Syrian refugees.

See a Jordan refugee camp for Syrians that has become a city:

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NTP: Jordan refugee camp for Syrians now a city
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US presidential candidate Carson: Syrian refugee camps 'quite nice'
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, an elderly Syrian refugee woman stands outside her shelter surrounded with flowers she planted, at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, a Syrian refugee boy plays with a tire at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, Syrian refugee Maan Turkman, 31, holds her twin infants Mohammed, left, and Ahmed, at a maternity clinic in Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, Syrian refugee girls play football at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Monday, July 27, 2015 photo, Syrian refugee boys sit in a mosque reading verses of the holy Quran at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Monday, July 27, 2015 photo, a Syrian refugee worker sorts old tents to be recycled at the Norwegian Refugee Council’s recycling workshop in Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, a Syrian refugee boy sits on top of his family's belonging while waiting to leave Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, Syrian refugees ride bicycles at a market at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
In this Wednesday, July 29, 2015 photo, Syrian refugees walk at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan. On Zaatari’s anniversary this past week, the transformation from tent camp to city symbolizes the failure of rival world powers to negotiate an end Syria’s war. But some say it’s also a reminder that the shift from emergency aid to long-term solutions, such as setting up a water network to replace expensive delivery by truck, should have come much sooner. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
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"I believe that the right policy is to support the refugee program that is in place, that works extremely well but does not have adequate funding," Carson said. "If you do that, you solve that problem without exposing the American people to a population that could be infiltrated with terrorists who want to destroy us."

Journalists were not invited to join Carson, who arrived in Jordan on Friday.

Carson said that Islamic State should be defeated quickly and criticized the current U.S. strategy as "piecemeal."

"I think we need to work in close conjunction with our Department of Defense, with our Pentagon, with our experts. Ask them what do you need in order to accomplish this? And then, let's make a decision," he told NBC.

Click through to see the journey of a Syrian refugee, Mohammed:

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Mohammed's Journey: A Syrian's long quest for a normal life
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US presidential candidate Carson: Syrian refugee camps 'quite nice'
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj waits to be registered by local authorities in the Serbian town of Presevo. The 26-year-old from Aleppo was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, file photo, Free Syrian Army fighters take a wounded Syrian woman to Dar al-Shifaa hospital, Aleppo, Syria. In late 2012, Mohammed al-Haj worked as a volunteer in Dar al-Shifaa. The hospital saw a constant flow of wounded and dying. Mohammed was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who crossed land and sea seeking to reach Western Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, File)
FILE -In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, file photo, a Syrian doctor notes the name of a severely wounded man at Dar al-Shifaa hospital in Aleppo, Syria. In late 2012, Mohammed al-Haj worked as a volunteer in Dar al-Shifaa. The hospital saw a constant flow of wounded and dying. Mohammed was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who crossed land and sea seeking to reach Western Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, File)
NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 file photo, doctors and volunteers treat a Syrian boy wounded by Syrian army shelling at Dar al-Shifaa hospital in Aleppo, Syria. When SyriaÂs Arab Spring uprising began in early 2011, Mohammed al-Haj quickly joined in the protests against President Bashar Assad, hoping for democratic rule. But within a year, the uprising slid into outright civil war. MohammedÂs home city of Aleppo became one of the worst battlefields as government forces besieged rebel-held neighborhoods. In late 2012, Mohammed worked as a volunteer at this front-line hospital. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, File)
In this Monday, Sept. 7, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj from Syria, right, eats a sandwich with friends as he waits to be registered and issued travel documents by local authorities at the port of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj from Syria speaks on his cell phone before his departure to Athens' port of Piraeus from Mytilene port, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj, foreground, and his friend, Dr. Mohanad Abdul-Qader from Syria, sleep on the deck of a ferry as they travel from the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos to Athens. The dream of normalcy after a life destroyed by Syria's civil war had sustained the 26-year-old Mohammed throughout his journey. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this this photo taken early Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj from Syria sleeps on the deck of a ferry as he travels from the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos to Athens. He was convinced he deserved better than a life trapped as a refugee in Turkey, where many of his compatriots hang on the hope of one day returning home. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this early Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj from Syria looks to the sea on the deck of a ferry traveling from the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos to Athens. Mohammed, a member of Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, was a volunteer at a front-line hospital in 2012. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Thursday, Sept .10, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj from Syria, center, arrives at Athens' port of Piraeus, Greece. Before his journey, he left his parents 3,000 euros ($3,400) he'd saved up. He left another 8,000 euros with a friend. The friend was to wire Mohammed money if he needed it along the route. But Mohammed also gave him alternative instructions: If he died on his journey, give the money to his mother. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj travels by bus from Athens to the Macedonian border. The 26-year-old from Aleppo was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. Nearly half of those were Syrians, like Mohammed, fleeing their countryÂs brutal civil war. Mohammed said that for him, "Syria is finished. It will only get worse and finally break apart." Europe means a life of dignity, where "at least ... I will feel I have rights." (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj checks Germany's map on his cell phone, as he approaches the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on the bus from Athens to the Macedonian border. With the new Greek SIM card he'd bought for his smartphone, he had access to a world of other Syrians through WhatsApp, constantly exchanging information about the journey ahead. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj from Syria, with blue jacket, waits to be registered by local authorities in the Serbian town of Presevo. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
Mohammed al-Haj, right, and his friend, Abdul-Rahman Babelly, sleep on a bus traveling from Presevo, in southern Serbia, to the capital, Belgrade, their next stop en route to the Hungarian border, on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. Throughout his journey, Mohammed sought to constantly move forward, searching for any open door or opportunity to jump before it closed in his face and blocked his path. It was only at moments like this, when he was on track, on a bus or train to his next destination, that he could relax. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj, second left, with his friends, stands at a bus station in Belgrade. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj, right, and his friend Dr. Mohanad Abdul-Qader walk on the railway tracks as they try to pass from the Serbian village of Horgos to Hungary. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj, center, with his friends Dr. Mohanad Abdul-Qader, left, and Dr. Ahmed Naasan try to pass from the Serbian village of Horgos to Hungary. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj, front left, and his friends walk on the railway tracks near the Serbian village of Horgos. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj and his friends try to hide from police in a cornfield in Roszke village, southern Hungary. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj and his friends try to hide from police in a cornfield in Roszke village, southern Hungary. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj and his friends try to hide from police in a cornfield in Roszke village, southern Hungary. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj, background, and his friends try to avoid the police in a cornfield in Roszke village, southern Hungary. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj speaks on his cell phone at the central train station of Vienna. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
In this Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj takes a photograph of himself in front of the central train station of Vienna, Austria. Mohammed, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
Mohammed al-Haj, right, talks with Dr. Osman al-Haj Osman on a bus in the German city of Saarlouis on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2015. The two men, who had worked together in the Aleppo hospital during brutal fighting in the city, were reunited after Mohammed's trek across the continent. At the Saarlouis train station, they hugged and swapped stories. Then they went to a nearby restaurant where the 33-year-old Osman, who has been in Germany nearly a year and now has asylum, gave Mohammed advice on settling in. Stop smoking, it's too expensive. Learn German. And get a job, or else the Germans will look down on you. As a man outside his country, Mohammed was prepared to face contempt, but he said, that would change: "When I complete my education, I will regain my self-esteem and those Germans will be proud of me." (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
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