Carson close to ending campaign
Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson announced yesterday that he would skip the GOP debate tonight in Detroit, saying in a statement that he did not see a "path forward" to gain the nomination.
While he didn't formally suspend his campaign, Carson said he would clarify his plans during his speech to CPAC attendees on Friday.
The announcement served as an acknowledgment that Carson’s candidacy is all but over following a disappointing showing in the 11 states that held contests Tuesday.
The decision follows months of candidate stumbles, staff infighting and strategy shifts derailing what had once appeared to be an unstoppable journey to conservative superstardom. It also marks the coming departure of the only high-profile African American candidate in the 2016 presidential race.
Carson, 64, burst onto the political scene in early 2013 when, addressing the typically nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast, he spoke about the dangers of political correctness, put forward the idea of a flat tax and criticized President Obama’s health-care law. What stood out was that he did so right beside a steely-faced Obama.
That week, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “Ben Carson for President.” By August of that year, there was a “National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee.” Before he launched his presidential bid last May, the group had raised close to $16 million, gotten a half-million signatures encouraging Carson to run and had 30,000 active volunteers across the country, according to organizers.
The media whirlwind was hardly his first brush with fame. Before he took the conservative world by storm, Carson was famous for an up-from-his-bootstraps life story, from impoverished childhood to a high-profile neurosurgery career. He was, at 33, the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins Hospital history, and he was the first pediatric neurosurgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head. He wrote a best-selling book, “Gifted Hands,” about his life, which later became a television movie.
The same bluntness that catapulted him into contention in a year that favored plain-spoken insurgents and outsider candidates earned him criticism as well. He found himself in political hot water for calling the Affordable Care Act the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” saying that the United States now is “very much like Nazi Germany” and predicting that allowing same-sex marriage could lead to legalized bestiality.
Carson's campaign revealed both the advantages and pitfalls of running an insurgent campaign. The last non-political outsider to win the presidency was Dwight Eisenhower. Ike had the advantage of being managed by the best political pros in the Republican Party at the time, unlike Dr. Carson, whose staff appeared at times to be escapees from amateur hour. Also, TV was in its infancy in 1952, and it's easy to imagine Eisenhower having similar problems that Carson experienced with the 24-7 glare of the media.
Carson was easily the nicest candidate in the field, who rarely had an unkind word for his opponents. But in a campaign so incendiary, so toxic, he was drowned out by the bombast coming from others. That, and his frightening ignorance of national security issues, led to his eventual downfall.