He did not explicitly say that he’s ending his campaign, only noting that he does not plan to take part in Thursday’s Fox News debate. But his longtime businessman and friend, Armstrong Williams, confirmed that the soft-spoken candidate would no longer be asking for votes.
Carson, 64, was one of several anti-establishment candidates who shaped the early stages of a Republican race defined by conservatives’ wide-ranging disgust with the nation’s direction and GOP leaders’ perceived inability to alter it.
That formula fueled a steady climb in the polls and a powerful fundraising effort. But his success also brought intense scrutiny. Carson lashed out publicly at questions about his life story, having to explain anecdotes like his claim to have been offered a “scholarship” to West Point. He made foreign policy flubs, from a mistaken suggestion that China is militarily involved in Syria’s civil war, to a high profile speech in which he repeatedly mispronounced the name of the Palestinian political and military organization Hamas.
The only African-American among the presidential contenders of either major party, Carson announced his bid in May from his native Detroit, where he was raised in a poor neighborhood by a single mother. Though she could not read, Carson said, his mother saw to it that he and his brother received formal educations.
He rose to political prominence with his address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where he offered a withering critique of the modern welfare state and the nation’s overall direction. The speech restated themes from Carson’s 2012 book “America the Beautiful,” but he excited conservatives by doing so with President Barack Obama sitting just feet away.
“If I am successful in this endeavor,” he said Dec. 8 in Georgia, “then a lot of other people who are not career politicians but who are very smart will start thinking, maybe I can do that, too, and we will expand the pool from which we selected our leadership.”