Ben Carson formally announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday after days of dropping hints that he “had no path” to the nomination.
“I am leaving the campaign trail,” Carson said to extended audience applause.
“There is a lot of people who love me, they just won’t vote for me,” he continued, chuckling. “I will still continue to be heavily involved in trying to save our nation.”
Carson’s unusual suspension announcement came twelve minutes into his scheduled speech, which touched on the merits of capitalism, the processing power of the human brain, and the dangers of secular progressivism.
In a question-and-answer session with Fox News host Mercedes Schlapp following the announcement, Carson said he was compelled to drop out after realizing he did not have enough delegates to move forward to the Republican convention.
“I did the math,” Carson said. “I looked at the delegate count. I looked at the states, I looked at the requirements and I realized that it was simply not going to happen.”
Rumors had been swirling since Wednesday that he would end his campaign at CPAC after both Carson and his longtime aide Armstrong Williams told the press that his presidential bid had no “political path forward.” He did not appear at Thursday’s Republican debate in Detroit, Michigan.
The retired neurosurgeon failed to win a single early primary state.
His suspension announcement was marked by the calls for civility among the Republican field and quirky comments that he became known for on the 2016 trail.
Asked by Schlapp to summarize himself in two words towards the end of the Q-and-A, Carson said “the children.”
“I would say the children because that’s what this is all about, it’s about the children,” the former pediatric neurosurgeon said. “It’s about their future. My whole career was about giving children a second chance.”