Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Friday, a decision that he hinted at earlier this week. Carson’s elimination leaves Donald Trump as the only political outsider left in the GOP field.
“Even though I am leaving the campaign trail… I will still try to be involved in trying to save our nation,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Convention on Friday.
Carson experienced a brief moment of success last November when he was polling in first place, but with his ridiculous beliefs and confusing mannerisms, he has struggled to gain traction in the loud and crowded Republican field. Carson did not win any state contests or even finish in the top three in any primary, and collected only eight delegates.
In a year where voters began to expect the unexpected from the Republican candidates, Carson still managed to surprise with a long series of bizarre, controversial, and often outrageous claims. Chief among them, his assertion that Muslims should be disqualified from the presidency. When the comment drew fire, Carson went on to explain his remarks. Instead of apologizing, he claimed that in order for a Muslim to become president, “you have to reject the tenets of Islam.”
Or there was the time that Carson claimed that a Hitler-like dictator could rise to power in the United States. “If you go back and look at the history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts, it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech,” he declared in September, refusing to outright say he was referring to President Obama. It was far from the only time he invoked Hitler during his presidential campaign.
In October, he said during a CNN interview that Jews could have prevented the Holocaust if they had guns. “There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first,” he said. When pressed about why he repeatedly uses Nazi metaphors, Carson blamed the media for stirring controversy, saying that he’s heard “from many people in the Jewish community, including rabbis, who said, ‘You’re spot on. You are exactly right.’”
Similarly, Carson did not shy away from comparing things to slavery. Back in 2013, he declared that Obamacare was the worst thing since slavery. And then during his campaign in October, he compared women who terminate their unwanted pregnancies to slaveowners who “thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave.”
He went on to call for an outlaw of abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. “I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way,” he said.
And though he was the only African American candidate in the field, Carson made some questionable statements about race. He called the Black Lives Matter movement “silly” and “sickening” and hired a state director who supported Jim Crow and opposed the Civil Rights Act.
Nevertheless, he managed to appeal to a small group of supporters who admired the fact that he had never won an election and who believed he was “God’s spokesperson.” But perhaps the loss of Carson’s candidacy will be felt most by his top advisors, who continued to collect millions of dollars as his campaign tanked.
Next up for Carson? My Faith Votes, a group focused on getting out the Christian vote in November, announced Friday that he will be joining them as their new chairman.