Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson officially dropped out of the race to become the Republican presidential nominee Friday during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “I'm leaving the campaign trail,” Carson said to the crowd in Maryland, which gave him a standing ovation.
The announcement comes after the one-time candidate said to supporters Wednesday that he did not see a “path forward” in the race to White House after failing to secure any wins on Super Tuesday. “There's a lot of people who love me, they just won't vote for me,” Carson said to laughter during his speech Friday.
While Carson may no longer be a presidential candidate, he found a new position before he even officially left the race. Earlier in the day Politico reported that Carson would serve as national chairman of My Faith Votes, a nonpartisan organization aimed at getting Christian Americans to vote.
Ben Carson said he's leaving campaign trail, gets standing ovation https://t.co/omXJOPJyUC
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It had been expected that Carson would formally leave the field Friday after he had indicated to supporters earlier in the week that he no longer had a path to the White House. Carson did not participate in a Fox News GOP debate Thursday.
“I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” read a statement from Carson Wednesday. “However, this grassroots movement on behalf of ‘We the People’ will continue. Along with millions of patriots who have supported my campaign for president, I remain committed to Saving America for Future Generations.”
Carson had, at one point, surged in the polls, even briefly leading the field in Iowa. But he faded as the campaign wore on and never finished higher than fourth in any state. The RealClearPolitics average of polls pegged him at just 9 percent support nationally.
Carson's departure leaves the once-crowded GOP field with just four candidates: front-runner Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. There is no clear choice for onetime Carson supporters looking for a new candidate. An NBC/Survey Monkey poll in February found 24 percent said Cruz was their second choice, 22 percent said Trump, 16 percent said Rubio and 7 percent said Kasich.