Detroit native Carson effectively ending campaign

The Detroit News

Detroit native and GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson said Wednesday he won’t participate in the Thursday Republican presidential debate in his hometown and would effectively end his campaign.

Carson, who ran and gained support as a political outsider, said he planned a Friday speech outlining his role in a continuing political movement.

He caught fire with grassroots conservatives for attacking political correctness but started losing supporters when he stumbled on foreign policy issues during debates in the past three months.

The retired neurosurgeon from West Palm Beach, Florida, trailed the four other remaining Republican presidential hopefuls with eight delegates of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination. He said in a statement he did not “see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” when he failed to win any of the 11 primaries and caucuses.

Armstrong Williams, Carson’s longtime business manager, told the Associated Press it’s “just the reality” that “there’s only one candidate in this 2016 election on the GOP side, and his name is (Donald) Trump.”

Williams adds that U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas also “have no path” and should drop out.

Carson didn’t make it clear whether he would officially suspend his campaign, but Williams says he no longer will actively seek votes.

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Carson said campaign finances played no role in his decision, saying he was doing “what is in the best interests of the American people.”

“Even though I will not be in my hometown of Detroit on Thursday, I remain deeply committed to my home nation, America,” Carson said. “However, this grassroots movement on behalf of ‘We the People’ will continue.

“Along with millions of patriots who have supported my campaign for president, I remain committed to Saving America for Future Generations. We must not depart from our goals to restore what God and our Founders intended for this exceptional nation.”

He said said he would outline his political future during a Friday speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

On Tuesday, Carson called publicly for a meeting before the Detroit debate with New York businessman Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to discuss ways to restore civility in the often-raucous forums. It generated little response.

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It wasn’t clear which candidate might immediately benefit from Carson’s exit from the campaign trail. Analysts have speculated that Trump could pick up Carson supporters because he also is a political outsider, but the bellicose billionaire attacked the Detroit native when his front runner status was challenged.

Trump targeted a Carson statement that described his youthful anger in Detroit as a kind of “pathological’’ temper.

“If you are pathological, there is no cure for that, folks,” Trump said in mid-November, according to the Wall Street Journal. “If you’re a child molester, a sick puppy , you’re a child molester, there’s no cure for that.”

Carson generated support because of his outsider appeal, attacks on political correctness and advocacy of religious conservatism.

He managed to keep raising tens of millions of dollars after making stumbles in the debates, and he has a faithful following of supporters drawn to his life story of overcoming a father-less childhood of poverty in southwest Detroit to become a world famous neurosurgeon. He is the only African-American candidate in the Democratic and Republican fields.

Carson said he appreciated having “the opportunity to get in front of people and actually let them hear your heart and what you believe as opposed to being interpreted to people through the media,” Carson told The Detroit News in January on the campaign trail in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. “If I listened to what the media said about me, I’d run in the other direction.”

Ten months ago this week, Carson kicked off his bid for the White House in Detroit after being drafted by a grassroots group. He surged in the polls over the summer and began raising more campaign cash in Michigan than GOP heavyweights such as Cruz, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

In early November, Carson briefly eclipsed Trump in national and Iowa polling of Republican voters.

But his front-runner status was short-lived after news stories called into question some details of his best-selling 1990 autobiography that couldn’t be substantiated or didn’t match historical records.