Perhaps Dr. Ben Carson should have gotten a second opinion before endorsing Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Carson’s own words about the billionaire show that he harbors his own significant doubts about Trump.
The initial endorsement, made last week, was suspect.
As CNN reported, “Carson - whose campaign and demeanor were polar opposites of Trump’s in many ways - played the role Friday of vouching for Trump’s character and integrity. He explained that there were ‘two Donald Trumps’ - one that the public sees, and another more reserved and ‘cerebral’ man who ‘sits there and considers things very carefully.’”
How is that an endorsement? Carson, whose own White House run was based on integrity and civility, acknowledges in his endorsement that Trump has neither quality.
But it gets worse.
When asked later what led to his endorsement, Carson said it was his conviction that Trump wasn’t being up front with the voters.
“I needed to know that he could listen to other people, that he could change his opinions, and that some of the more outlandish things that he’s said, that he didn’t really believe those things,” Carson told The Hill, a Capitol newspaper.
Ever the idealist, Carson then turned pragmatic in that interview. He said his support for Trump was also based on the belief - unsupported by polls - that Trump has the best shot at winning the general election in November. That’s why he didn’t give his endorsement to Sen. Ted Cruz, he told The Hill.
“I just did not get the impression that Cruz would have the ability to draw in a lot of people other than hardcore conservatives,” he said. “I’m not sure you can win that way. You’ve got to be able to expand. The country has changed and we have to change with it.”
Now, that may or may not be true. Certainly, Cruz won his Senate seat by running to the right of then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. But what’s undeniable now is that Cruz - and Marco Rubio, for that matter - poll far better against Democrats than Trump does.
But even that’s not the worst of Carson’s holding-his-nose endorsement. On Monday, he told Newsmax that if he - and the American public - are wrong, then it’s only a temporary mistake.
“Even if Donald Trump turns out not to be such a great president, which I don’t think is the case, I think he’s going to surround himself with really good people, but even if he didn’t, we’re only looking at four years as opposed to multiple generations and perhaps the loss of the American dream forever,” he said.
With endorsements like that, who needs opposition research?
The tragedy here is the damage that Ben Carson has done to himself. He could have been the moral compass of the Republican Party, but he has abandoned principle to support a man who he acknowledges says terrible things and only sometimes means them.
Like Chris Christie, who also endorsed Trump only to be humiliated by him later, Carson will likely regret his choice - if he’s not already doing so.