Ben Carson speaks at a town hall in Panora, Iowa, on Jan. 6, 2016. (Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson at a campaign rally with 500 people in Cedar Rapids[1], Iowa,  shouted out to a fifth-grade class: “Who’s the worst student?”

Carson’s question, intended as a joke in an anecdote about how he felt in elementary school, prompted immediate hand pointing toward one student from more than half a dozen classmates before Carson could take it back.

The question was added to a frequent anecdote that appears in Carson speeches.

He went on to share how his grade-school classmates in Detroit insisted he was the dumbest person in the world. Then he dedicated himself to reading and became a peer mentor later in his student life.

Here’s how the interaction with the crowd at Isaac Newton Christian Academy played out:

“As a fifth grade student, I was a horrible student. Anybody here in fifth grade?”

A large group of students all seated together in the gymnasium bleachers raised their hands.

“Who’s the worst student? Now …” he said, pausing for laughs from the crowd, then the fingerpointing.

Carson chuckled and went on: “Well, let me tell you, if you had asked that question in my classroom, there would have been no doubt.”

He then recalled a specific argument about “who is the dumbest person in the world?” And the students decided it was him, he said.

A tweet about the exchange generated immediate criticism on social media.

Later, Carson met with the student and said he hopes he follows in his footsteps with a career in medicine.

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