Ben Carson endorses Trump: "we buried the hatchet"

Four months after presidential frontrunner Donald Trump compared him to a child molester, retired surgeon and presidential dropout Ben Carson threw his support behind Trump.

The endorsement came via press conference at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club Friday morning.

“He is actually a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America,” Carson said.

Carson dropped out of the GOP presidential contest last week after a poor showing in the polls. He acknowledges that the two had been rivals, but have since talked and now are totally buds.

“We buried the hatchet," Carson said. "That was political stuff and, you know, that happens in American politics, the politics of personal destruction.”

This is the second endorsement a former GOP presidential candidate from this cycle has endorsed Trump. The first was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (who appeared, um, despondent behind Trump at the podium on Super Tuesday).

It's unclear whether Carson's endorsement will do much for Trump in the polls, given that his popularity fizzled months ago.

Some are also pointing out how odd it is that that Carson, a staunch evangelical who literally has a portrait of himself hangin' with Jesus hanging in his house, would support Trump over Cruz, who espouses similarly conservative Christian views.

But there was bad blood between the two in February in Iowa, when Cruz told voters Carson had dropped out before the caucus was over, which apparently in politics is way worse than being likened to a child molester.

Carson said that Trump's persona and who he is privately are two different things.

“There's two different Donald Trumps. There's the one you see on the stage, and there's the one that's very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him. And that's the Donald Trump that you're going to see more and more of right now.”

Trump addressed the press afterward.

“He just wants to help," Trump said of Carson. "He feels strongly about what's happening and you see what kinds of crowds we get. We get crowds that are amazing and record-setting. I don't think there's ever been everything like it. We're on the cover of every magazine. There's never been anything like it. Ben sees that, and Ben's going to have a big, big part. Maybe Ben doesn't know that yet, but he's going to have a big part. We want to keep that kind of talent.”

Asked by a reporter about Carson's comments about the difference between Trump's public persona and Trump as a man, he said he agrees.

“I think there are two Donald Trumps. There's the public version and people that and. I don't know what they see, exactly, but it seems to have worked over my lifetime. But it's probably different, I think, than the personal Donald Trump.”

(Moments later, though, he went back on the "two Donald Trumps" comments, saying he doesn't think there are two Donald Trumps.)

During the 20-minute press conference that followed Carson's announcement, Trump answered questions on a range of issues, with the current division within the Republican party front and center.

Publicly, many establishment Republicans (Mitt Romney, House Speaker Paul Ryan) have formed what's being called an anyone-but-Trump movement, and many are backing his current top rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, also a recent dropout despite being an establishment favorite in Florida, is said to have been meeting with Cruz and the other two remaining Republicans in the race, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

But Trump indicated he's been talking to some of those same people as well, including Ryan, but wouldn't go into specifics much further beyond that.

"We have been called by the biggest people in politics, Not only Republican politics, but also the biggest people in Republican politics, over the last couple of weeks. You saw Paul Ryan reached out. Terrific guy. I've always respected him, I've always liked him. Not necessarily agree on everything because I'm very strong on supporters and very strong on security. I think Paul is, you know, I think he's going to have his views and I think probably certain things will change. But Paul Ryan reached out and we had a great conversation, but many other people at the top, top level [...]"

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