In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News, Ben Carson declined to say that he is officially dropping out of the 2016 presidential race.
The retired neurosurgeon spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric Thursday afternoon from his home outside Baltimore about the state of the Republican Party and his political future following disappointing Super Tuesday results.
He said he’d make a more definitive announcement Friday when he is scheduled to address the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Carson did say he thinks too much attention has been paid to party infighting and not enough to each candidate’s policies.
“I want people to start thinking about the real issues that are threatening America right now,” he said. “Those issues are not how big someone’s hands are or how long someone’s nose is.”
“If there were a good path forward I would certainly take it, but there isn’t,” Carson said. “And I would say, please look at the policies of each one of the candidates and see which ones really align well with your thinking, and go with the one that is closest to thinking the way that you do.”
Several times, Carson refused to endorse anyone for the Republican Party’s nomination but promised to support the primary’s eventual winner. He said he believes in the intellect of the people to choose the right person.
“I would support whoever the people have chosen,” he said. “And somehow we must abandon the thinking that there are a bunch of politically elite people who know what’s best.”
Earlier Thursday, speaking at the University of Utah, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney laid out the case against current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump — calling him a phony and a fraud.
When asked about Romney’s speech, Carson said he wishes that Republicans would stop attacking each other because all that does is hand the election over to the Democrats.
“I don’t think it is the proper place for someone who was the former standard bearer to be attacking the leading contender right now in a negative way,” Carson said.
Couric pointed out that there is a battle raging for the heart of the Republican Party: between those who feel Trump should be stopped at all costs and those who think he’s winning the nomination fair and square. Carson confirmed that he falls into the latter category.
“If you reject the will of the people, you’re going to fracture the party to such a degree that, I don’t care who you put up there, they’re not going to win,” he said.
On Wednesday, Carson announced that he would not be participating in Thursday’s Republican debate and does not see a “political path forward” for himself but is still deeply committed to “this grassroots movement on behalf of ‘we the people.’”
“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 said in a statement.
Carson at the Faith and Family Presidential Forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., in February. (Photo: Chris Keane/Reuters)
Couric asked if this statement indicates that Carson will stay on the national stage. He replied that before his political bid he was already a frequent speaker all over the United States and that he will continue to be one.
“I’m not going anywhere. Not when we have these kinds of problems facing our future generations,” he said.
Last November, Carson sat down with Couric to discuss the controversy surrounding his life story. His inspirational narrative describing his rise from poverty in Detroit to international acclaim as a doctor at Johns Hopkins attracted intense scrutiny following a surge in his poll numbers.
“I don’t have any problem with being vetted. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I do have a problem when people take things and distort them purposely and tell lies,” Carson told Couric.
The remaining Republican presidential candidates — Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and businessman Donald Trump — will participate in Thursday night’s debate hosted by Fox News in Carson’s hometown of Detroit.
(Cover tile photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA for Yahoo News)