NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Ben Carson officially ended his presidential campaign and spelled out the qualities needed in any candidate he’d endorse — without naming any candidate by name.
Carson panned the “loud and boisterous” rhetoric flying in the GOP primaries in a speech today to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Interestingly enough, I used to be like that,” he noted. “The people that are running today, I could come up with some stuff, let me tell you. I left that stuff in high school.”
Carson acknowledged that “so many” primary voters “are angry and afraid.”
“The problem is you tend to make bad decisions when you’re angry and afraid,” he noted.
He encouraged voters to “calm down and use the amazing intellect that God has given us,” as “you don’t need to have much of a developed brain to simply react in fear — animals can do that, lizards can do that.”
“What we need right now in America is leadership,” Carson said, noting “many people have said, who are you going to endorse?”
The pediatric neurosurgeon said he had some criteria “one should use.”
“Somebody who is going to lead America and the world and demonstrated significant accomplishment in their life. Someone whose ideas and politics are clear.”
Carson said one needs to “look at how they treat others and how they treat their family, because that’s how they’re going to treat the American people.” The ideal candidate should have demonstrated how they’ve improved life for people in America.
“Look at people they work with,” Carson added, to see how that person will “collaborate to get things done.”
“Somebody who can check the box on all of those is going to make an incredible leader.”
Carson said a strategy that can “couple capitalism with compassion” will “be a winning formula for us.”
“I will still continue to be heavily involved in trying to save our nation,” he promised.
Carson is going to be chairman of a Christian get-out-the-vote group called My Faith Votes.
He acknowledged he could kick back and enjoy retirement at this point, but “I can’t do that knowing that the next generation is in trouble.”
On why he ran for president, Carson explained that God “opened the door, so I walked through it.”
“I kind of thought at some point people would say ‘enough of this foolishness, let’s look at these policies,'” he said of his experience in the GOP field. In deciding to drop out after Super Tuesday, Carson said he “looked at the math and saw it simply wasn’t going to happen.”
“And if that was the case, I didn’t want to interfere with the process,” he noted, quipping that Thursday night’s debate was like watching Netflix.
Carson said when he was interviewed by members of the international press in the spin room after debates they asked him, “Aren’t you embarrassed?”
“I continue to ask my friends who are running for president, and I’ve talked with all of them this week, to rise above,” he said.
“We the people deserve to know who we’re choosing for president.”
On a brokered convention, Carson said he “would prefer in general not to have one, but there’s a reason that the process is in place.”
“The only thing I would have a problem with is if someone starts changing the rules,” he added.
Carson discouraged GOPs from sitting out the election in protest. “If you don’t vote, you are voting for the other side,” he said. “We can’t afford that.”
Pressed further on what he would tell the remaining candidates: “I would tell them that they must understand that we, the Republicans, are not each other’s enemies and we cannot afford to give the Democrats all of this ammunition.”
“I wish people would remember what happened last time … they were able to use so much of the material that we used against each other,” he said of the 2012 presidential campaign. “Can we just stop?”