Ben Carson has officially suspended his presidential campaign, the candidate announced on Friday. The decision follows the one-time-front-runner’s skipping of Thursday’s Republican debate after concluding that he could see no possible path for himself to the GOP nomination. Speaking at the CPAC conference in Maryland, Dr. Carson joked that “you know there’s a lot of people who love me — they just won’t vote for me,” while also vowing to continue his efforts to “save our nation.” To that end, he will now become the national chairman of My Faith Votes, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to getting out the Christian vote.
For much of the race, Carson was extremely popular with grassroots conservatives, and as a result raised more money — $58 million — than any other candidate, with most of his 700,000 donors contributing $200 or less. However, as the Associated Press reports, it’s not clear how much of that money was actually spent on campaigning. In their analysis, Carson’s campaign paid at least $16 million to fundraising and marketing firms owned by two of Carson’s consultants. In comparison, only $1.3 million was spent on campaign staff and advertising. In other words, there is evidence that Carson’s candidacy really was more of a political scam than an actual campaign.
On Thursday, Yahoo News’s Katie Couric asked Carson to comment on allegations that his campaign’s fundraising spending had been designed to collect a donor list for some post-campaign business venture, rather than to support his candidacy. Responded Carson, “Mistakes were made. We probably had the wrong team in place, people who probably had different objectives than I did. And once we discovered that and rectified it, the situation changed dramatically.” Carson added that he was disappointed in some of the people involved in his campaign, and disappointed in himself that he trusted those people without vetting them more carefully. After firing some of his top advisers last month, Carson appeared on CNN and remarked that “We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances, or maybe they did — maybe they were doing it on purpose.”