One week after he formally dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is endorsing New York businessman Donald Trump.
Carson said a major factor for the endorsement was the growing talk among many Republicans of working to deny Trump the majority of delegates he’d need to clinch the party’s nomination, and instead hold a contested convention this summer.
“One of the real factors for me is what will happen if we allow the political operatives to succeed in their endeavor to stop Donald Trump,” said Carson at a Friday morning press conference in Florida. “I think it would fracture the party irreparably, and it would hand the election to the Democrats.”
“Now some people said, ‘now why would you get behind a man like Donald Trump?'” Carson said. “I’ll tell you why. First of all, I’ve come to know Donald Trump over the last few years. He is actually a very intellegent man who cares deeply about America.”
“There’s two different Donald Trumps,” Carson continued. “There’s the one you see on the stage, and the one who’s very cerebral, sits there, and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him. And that’s the Donald Trump that you’re going to start seeing more and more of right now.”
Carson’s support comes just a week after he officially ended his campaign. The famed African-American physician had a surge of support last fall, but faltered after his comments regarding terrorist attacks exposed his weaknesses on foreign policy.
The conservative favorite could help boost Trump heading into a critical primary day on Tuesday, where big winner-take-all prizes are up for grabs in Florida and Ohio.
The relationship between the two hasn’t always been warm and fuzzy. Late last year as Carson was on the rise, Trump came out swinging at him, questioning the redemption story at the heart of Carson’s narrative — how he overcame a violent childhood and a “pathological temper” to become a world-renowned surgeon.
“If you’re a child molester, there’s no cure. They can’t stop you. Pathological? There’s no cure,” Trump said.
Both men attempted to move past that history during the Friday morning press conference.
“The one person that just kept sneaking up on me – I couldn’t lose him – was Dr. Ben Carson. …And so I started going after Ben” said Trump, bluntly acknowledging the political calculations that go into political attacks. “It’s politics. Ben understands that. And I was really impressed by the way he fought back. Because he fought back with silence and strength.”
“We buried the hatchet,” said Carson. “That was political stuff. And that happens in American politics.”