Ben Carson will not drop out of the GOP presidential race, even if he doesn’t take home any delegates on Super Tuesday, close friend and adviser Armstrong Williams told The Hill.
But Carson has resisted, saying he’ll listen only to God and his supporters on how to move forward, claiming the mainstream media is seeking to silence him.
On Tuesday, Williams told The Hill that Carson has firmly declared to him that he will not get out of the race until a candidate reaches the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination.
“Until then it’s open season, and the race is wide open,” Williams said.
“Dr. Ben Carson is not and never will be a part of the political class. He doesn’t think like a politician, doesn’t act like a politician and doesn’t rely on those relationships like the other politicians do. He’s staying in the race even if he doesn’t get any delegates tonight.”
Carson, asked on Tuesday's "Morning Joe" whether he would re-evaluate his campaign after Super Tuesday, said, “I re-evaluate the campaign every single day. But one of the major factors for me is our supporters. That’s the reason I’m in here … I’m in here because people asked me to be here. I will continue to listen to what they have to say.”
There had been some whispers among Carson confidants that Super Tuesday would be his final stand.
Carson’s fundraising has fallen dramatically from the days when he was taking in more money than any other GOP candidate and challenging Trump atop the polls.
He finished last in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries and will likely not win any of the contests on Super Tuesday. Furthermore, the 11 states that vote on Tuesday will heavily allocate their delegates to the top two finishers, making it possible that Carson will leave with very few delegates, if any at all.
But the Carson campaign says that more than enough small-dollar donations are still rolling in to fund the leaner operation they’re now overseeing. Carson campaign CFO Logan Delany told The Hill last week that if the campaign ends, it won’t be because it ran out of money.
Carson campaign chairman Robert Dees told The Washington Examiner on Tuesday that he doesn’t see a path to victory for his candidate. But Williams argued that this election cycle has been too unpredictable so far for anyone to claim they know how it’s going to end.
“Throw out all the pundit analyses. None of them have any idea what the outcome will be,” Williams said. “While you’re at it, throw out all the rule books, because Dr. Carson will be writing his own chapter. They don’t call him ‘long shot’ for nothing.”
Carson has already campaigned in Kentucky, which will vote on March 5, and his state chairman in Michigan, state Sen. Mike Shirkey (R), told The Hill the campaign has instructed him to organize a concerted push there before the March 8 primary.
Still, not all of Carson’s confidants believe he should stay in the race.
Terry Giles, who has known Carson for decades and managed his pre-campaign exploratory efforts, as well as coordination between his outside super-PACs, expressed frustration in an interview with The Hill that Carson is still in the race.
“It’s better for the party and for Ben’s brand for him to seriously consider suspending his campaign,” Giles said. “I know they can probably still raise money, but if they really don’t have a chance, seems somehow not right to continue to raise money from people who are making very small donations.”
“Ben’s voice is, in my opinion, a very important voice in the Republican party, and the Republican Party needs him, but if he continues, it will reflect negatively on him, and his numbers will drop to a point he won’t carry the weight that he would if he handles it with decorum and the professionalism that, for instance, Jeb Bush did.”
Giles is now unaffiliated and considering whom he might support. He plans to meet with Bill Millis, a North Carolina clothing magnate and former top fundraiser for Carson, this month in Texas as they consider whom they might support and how they could influence the race.
Millis, however, declined to call on Carson to drop out.
“Whether this affects his political capital doesn’t matter to him because he’s not a politician,” Millis said.
“He wants to send a message to this nation, and when he’s unable to do that he’ll drop out. I’m sure of that, but it’s not there yet for him. He’s following what the Lord has called him to do. It’s not up to Bill Millis or anyone to tell him what to do. If he thinks it will negatively impact the party or the Lord taps him and says you’ve done a good job and it’s time to back off, he’ll do it.”
Williams said that time will not be Super Tuesday.
“His supporters are asking him to stay in the race,” Williams said. “They’re spending their hard-earned money, and he won’t ignore that he’s the people’s candidate. He believes a breakthrough is coming.”