Ben Carson Won’t Attend Next GOP Debate, Admits He Has No Viable Path Forward

Ben Carson announced today that he is skipping the next GOP debate and admitted that he does not see a viable path forward for his campaign. However, he didn't formally withdraw from the race for the Republican nomination.

Ben Carson Profile

Ben Carson announced this afternoon that he would not be attending tomorrow’s debate on Fox News Channel, strongly hinting that a withdrawal from the race was not far behind:

Ben Carson said Wednesday that he did not see a path forward for his campaign and that he would not attend the Republican presidential debate on Thursday night, signaling an end to his candidacy after paltry performances in the nominating contests so far.

“I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” Mr. Carson said in a statement. “However, this grass-roots movement on behalf of ‘We the People’ will continue.”

Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, briefly led in the polls last year but his effort petered out amid concerns about his lack of foreign policy knowledge. He failed to win a presidential primary or caucus in any state and frequently complained about a lack of attention from the news media.

On Tuesday, he said that he was calling his opponents to urge them to be more civil to one another but gave no indication that he was considering dropping out of the race.

“I appreciate the support, financial and otherwise, from all corners of America,” Mr. Carson said. “Gratefully, my campaign decisions are not constrained by finances; rather by what is in the best interests of the American people.”

Carson did not say that he was suspending his campaign, but the fact that he admitted that he does not see a viable path forward seems to suggest that this is the direction he’s headed in and that it’s  just a matter of time before he gets there. He did say that he will be speaking on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, so it’s possible that he may use that speech as the opportunity to provide the denouement of his campaign while at the same time seeking to establish himself as some sort of elder statesman of civility in the conservative movement. This last part is ironic considering the fact that, prior to running for President, Carson’s claim to fine basically consisted of saying outrageous, offensive, and downright stupid things that were clearly designed to serve as red meat for the Fox News crowd. For example, in the past he has equated the Affordable Care Act to the September 11th attacks, madefrequent use of Nazi analogies to criticize the President, and said that “progressives” want to turn the United States into Nazi Germany, and compared abortion to human sacrifices by civilizations of the past. More recently, he claimed that prison rape is proof that being gay is a choice.

There was a brief time just a few months ago, of course, when Ben Carson became a seemingly major player in the race for the Republican nomination. In November, for example, he briefly became the frontrunner in Iowa in several polls and was in second place in the national polls behind Donald Trump. Over time, though, it became clear that Carson’s time in the spotlight would be as short-lived as was the brief stardom of candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain during the 2012 election cycle, and as with those candidates Carson’s undoing was entire his own doing. Once the spotlight was on him, Carson demonstrated ignorance about the way government operates as well as the details of domestic policy issues. In addition to this, of course, he displayed what can only be called an odd relationship with the truth, including many of the details of his personal biography.  As the pressure grew, Carson began to attacking the media even though it was clear that he was not being treated unfairly. What seems to have proved fatal to Carson, though, was foreign policy, especially in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris. Starting in the most recent Republican debate on Fox News Channel, Carson displayed utter incoherence on basic foreign policy matters, something that has even beenconfirmed by those brought in to advise him on the issue. Slowly but sure, Carson began falling in the polls to the point where, now, he is consistently in last place in the national and state-level polling and in the results of the 15 primaries and caucuses that have been held to date despite have been one of the more successful fundraisers among the entire GOP field. In the end, whether he formally drops out or not is rather irrelevant, though, because he has basically been irrelevant in this race since the New Year.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Davebo says:

    Ben’s not going anywhere so long as the money keeps flowing in.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    …but his effort petered out amid concerns about his lack of foreign policy knowledge.

    That’s a nice euphemism for completely out of touch with reality.

  3. PJ says:

    The latest campaign finance statements (as of January 31st) has Carson’s campaign having spent more than any other Republican candidate.

    Trump has carried more states than the number of projected delegates that Carson had won…

    Excellent ROI.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    @PJ: Ah, but if the goal was to find a way of legally moving all that money from the pockets of his supporters to the bank accounts of the people surrounding Carson, it’s been a complete success.

    And yeah, they’ll continue talking into his ear about how he needs to keep going “for the good of America” as long as the money flows in.

    I don’t believe Dr. Carson himself has wanted to act as a grifter, but I think he’s been at the mercy of those who love to use him as one to line their own pockets.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    Smartest thing he has done since he separated those co-joined twins.

  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Ben Carson Won’t Attend Next GOP Debate, Admits He Has No Never Had Viable Path Forward. No One Surprised.


    He will “suspend” his campaign to make sure that the money keeps rolling in. Grifters gotta grift.

  7. Andre Kenji says:

    Carson had Armstrong Williams(That was paid by the Bush administration to promote NCLB on his syndicated column) as his campaign adviser. No Surprise here.