PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump on Friday, throwing his support to the GOP front-runner in a 45-minute joint appearance where Trump said he doesn’t see a need for any more televised debates.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who recently ended his campaign, said he and Trump have “buried the hatchet” after trading nasty words during the primary. He also said there are “two different” Trumps: the one the public sees and a more “cerebral” Trump in private.
Speaking at his posh Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump praised Carson and said he would play a “big role” in the campaign, in both political and policy capacities. But he declined to offer specific descriptions.
Trump also said that he doesn’t see a need for any further primary debates. The GOP held its most recent debate Thursday night in Miami.
“I think we’ve had enough debates. How many times do you have to give the same answer to the same questions?” said Trump.
Trump and Carson weren’t always so chummy. The mogul once said the retired surgeon has a “pathological disease” with no cure, similar to being a child molester.
Trump, who is Presbyterian, also once raised doubts about Carson’s Seventh-day Adventist faith.
Carson, who has a winter home in nearby West Palm Beach, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday morning for breakfast. Over a spread of pastries, fruit and coffee — and without aides present — the two men spoke for over an hour.
Armstrong Williams, Carson’s longtime confidant and business manager, assisted in arranging the meeting.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Carson described Trump’s demeanor during their get-together as “very humble, very graceful, very open to suggestions.”
“I think this whole process is starting to sink in, the fact that he could be president of the United States,” Carson said.
Trump’s past attacks on Carson never came up.
“They didn’t bother me that much at the time. I fully expected it,” Carson said when asked about Trump’s barrage last year over biographical stories from Carson’s youth. “When that happened, he was fighting to catch up, and sometimes when people are frightened they say foolish things.”
Carson said that he told Trump that in spite of their differences and ideological incongruity on several issues, he feels solidarity with him as a fellow outsider who has been mocked at times by establishment figures in the political class.
“Having myself felt the sting of the established group, when they [said] ‘no, no, no, we don’t want you,’ I totally understand what Trump is going through,” Carson said.
Moving forward, he added, he would like to be part of Trump’s kitchen cabinet on policy while also keeping busy with his own political activities and appearances.
“My real ideal now is to get involved in crafting policy that will save this country. Education, health-care reform — those are my two major issues,” Carson said. “I will be happy to help [Trump] and I will be making endorsements of other candidates running for office. And we’re going to establish a new [political-action committee], but we’re still chewing on various options.”
Costa reported from Miami.