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Ben Carson on TODAY Show: Welcoming Syrian refugees 'exposes us to danger'

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson tells TODAY's Matt Lauer that bringing in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees "does not solve the problem."
/ Source: TODAY

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson tells TODAY's Matt Lauer that allowing the United States to welcome tens of thousands of Syrian refugees would not help resolve the crisis but only put the nation in jeopardy.

“Bringing them into this country does not solve the problem, and it exposes us to danger,” Carson said during an interview Tuesday.

Carson last week visited Jordan to tour Syrian refugee camps in an effort to bolster his foreign affairs credentials, something he has been criticized for lacking.

Carson called the camps “really quite nice” and suggested they should serve as a long-term solution. On TODAY, he called the Jordanians "very generous people" who have set up camps and hospitals "that work very well" but just lack to the resources to support the efforts.

"Why don’t we take advantage of things that are already in place, before we start trying to come up with other things," he said.

When reminded that refugee camps aren't places where settlers can build their future, Carson said that most of the refugees he met with want to return back home to Syria. But they also suggested ways that foreign nations can help outside of opening their borders.

"What can nations like the United States do? They can support the efforts of places like Jordan and other places that might offer them a safe place to inhabit until such time as they can return home," he said.

Carson also addressed his recent slide down polls in Iowa, which will hold the nation's first presidential caucus on Feb. 1.

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“Poll numbers will go up and down. It's a marathon, not a sprint,” he told Lauer.

Carson said voters are still evaluating where each candidate stands on issues and how views fit “their impression of what they need.”

“I think there is plenty of time to make the appropriate arguments,” he said.

Carson has been courting the Christian conservative vote for months in Iowa, where he once led the polls. His standings have taken a hit recently, and the retired neurosurgeon finds himself in third place in numerous polls, behind Donald Trump and either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

Some conservative pundits have noted that Carson’s slip has coincided with an increase in world events, including the growth of the Syrian refugee crisis and the deadly attacks in Paris.

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.