Ben Carson

Ben Carson

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Retired surgeon Dr. Ben Carson is officially out of the presidential race. He made that explicit Friday afternoon during his speech on the main stage at CPAC.

“Now that I’m leaving the campaign trail…” Carson announced, before he was interrupted by cries of “Nooo!” from some audience members. Most of the crowd then joined in a standing ovation for the neurosurgeon who was always considered a long shot to win the nomination.

Carson promised he would still be heavily involved in the causes he believes in. He will become the new national chairman of the Christian organization My Faith Votes.

“Could I sit down right now and enjoy the rest of my life in complete luxury? Absolutely,” Carson said. “But I can’t do that knowing the next generation is in trouble.”

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During a question-and-answer session with Fox News contributor Mercedes Schlapp immediately following his speech, Carson explained why he chose to get out of the race.

“I have always kind of thought that people at some point would say, ‘Enough of this foolishness; we’re going to look at these policies and see what works.’ We haven’t gotten there quite yet, but we’re gradually moving in that direction,” he said.

“I did the math, I looked at the delegate counts, I looked at the states, I looked at the requirements, and I realized that it simply wasn’t going to happen, and if that’s the case then I didn’t want to interfere with the process.”

Carson told his supporters not to sit out the election just because he is out of the running. He warned that when people don’t vote they are actually voting for the other side.

The surgeon spent most of his speech repeating his campaign themes. He urged Americans to avoid the temptation to be angry and afraid, but rather to calm down and use the intellect God gave them. He also said Republicans should elect someone who is ethical, saying the country needs “trickle-down ethics.”

He ended by asserting Republicans are not each other’s enemies and must not quarrel with each other, lest it damages the eventual nominee’s chances in the general election.

“We cannot afford to give the Democrats all this ammunition,” he said.

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