WASHINGTON – Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Wednesday he sees no viable path forward for himself in the 2016 Republican presidential primary race, essentially ending a campaign that soared last year only to steadily lose steam.
“I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” Carson said in a statement, referring to the busiest day of the nomination process that saw 11 states vote for their Republican standard-bearer.
The night was dominated by front-runner Donald Trump, with Carson finishing fourth or fifth out of five candidates in every state.
Carson, 64, said he would not participate in Thursday’s Republican debate in his home city of Detroit.
Although his statement made no official mention of shutting down his campaign, it was a clear signal that he was dropping out of the race.
“I appreciate the support, financial and otherwise, from all corners of America,” he said. “Gratefully, my campaign decisions are not constrained by finances; rather by what is in the best interests of the American people.”
He said he remained committed to “saving America” for future generations, adding that “we must not depart from our goals to restore what God and our founders intended for this exceptional nation.”
The religiously conservative Carson, the only African-American in the race to succeed President Barack Obama, said he will discuss his political future on Friday in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, near Washington.
The soft-spoken, mild-mannered Carson once rivaled the bombastic Trump in the quest for the nomination. He was the second-place candidate from early September through November, attracting substantial support from evangelical conservatives.
But he struggled to maintain the momentum. Carson’s challenge for the White House stumbled over questions about the veracity of aspects of his compelling life story, notably his claim in books and speeches that he had been offered a scholarship to the prestigious West Point military academy.
He placed fourth in the first nominating contest, in Iowa, and eighth in the second contest, in New Hampshire.