Ben Carson has said he will not make an appearance at Thursday’s GOP debate after admitting he does not “see a political path forward” for his 2016 presidential bid.
Despite refusing to say whether he was pulling out of the Republican nomination process outright, the retired neurosurgeon and former GOP front-runner issued a statement on Wednesday, admitting that victory was mathematically impossible.
Days earlier, Carson had delivered an impassioned speech explaining to supporters that he had no intention of dropping out of the race.
Yet that pledge was directly followed by a pitiful finish on Super Tuesday. Carson came in dead last, earning just three delegates to Donald Trump’s 237.
After meeting with campaign staff on Wednesday, Carson said the poor result had convinced him to pull out of the Fox News GOP Debate scheduled to take place in Detroit on Thursday.
“I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” Carson wrote. “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.”
Carson went on to thank voters for supporting his troubled campaign, and said that all his decisions had been guided by “what is in the best interests of the American people.”
“I will discuss more about the future of this movement during my speech on Friday at CPAC in Washington, DC,” he added.
Despite Carson’s coy remarks, campaign chairman Bob Dees immediately emailed supporters to confirm that “political efforts must come to a close.”
“No doubt many of you have tears as you read this, just as I tearfully write these words,” Dees said. “Tearfully because the reality is that our political efforts must come to a close.”
A first-time political candidate, Carson had initially entered the spotlight in 2013 following a public attack on President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that was lauded by conservative pundits.
After choosing to enter the fray last year, Carson then enjoyed an early boost of support thanks his gleaming reputation within the health sector.
Carson had previously been awarded the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, in 2008. President George W Bush had praised Carson for overcoming a troubled background in Detroit, branding him an inspiration for turning “his life sharply into a different direction”.
Yet subsequent reports of previous violent episodes, including an attempted stabbing, inevitably shattered the sterling façade of Carson’s rise to fame.
Just five months ago, Carson was polling neck-and-neck with Donald Trump – briefly surpassing the outspoken real estate tycoon in order to lead the GOP’s heavily populated field of candidates.
Yet following that impressive surge of momentum in November, Carson’s numbers have been engaged in a proverbial free fall ever since. In the run up to Super Tuesday, the former front runner was polling at 9 percent – just a fraction of a point above doomed Ohio Governor John Kasich.
That being said, even Kasich outscored Carson in Tuesday’s primaries. He narrowly missed out on beating Donald Trump in Vermont, earning an impressive 30 percent of the vote.
Super Tuesday wasn’t the first voting hurdle that Ben Carson had struggled to overcome. Despite polling above many of the Republican Party’s popular establishment candidates, Carson kicked off 2016 with a finish of just 9.3 percent of the vote in Iowa. He went on to come in eighth in New Hampshire and sixth in South Carolina.
And while Ben Carson’s exit from the 2016 presidential race has long seemed inevitable, his political ambitions may yet bear fruit.
Earlier this week, a gaggle of Republicans argued Carson should abandon the GOP nominee process in order to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida.
“Would he be a great US senator? Absolutely,” John Philip Sousa IV, who runs a pro-Carson super PAC, told reporters. “Would we support him all the way? You bet we would.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has emerged from the ashes of Super Tuesday as the presumed Republican nominee. He has already won the lion’s share of GOP delegates and is enjoying a 15-point lead over Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
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