Ben Carson talks of 'leaving' GOP. Big threat to party?

After reports that GOP leaders discussed a brokered convention, the retired neurosurgeon threatened to bolt the party if there is a plan 'to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite.'

Matt York/AP
Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks in Phoenix Dec. 4. Carson threatens to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent.

Ben Carson on Friday threatened to bolt the Republican Party amid reports that GOP leaders discussed strategy for a brokered convention at a D.C. dinner earlier this week.

Mr. Carson appeared concerned that the meeting was the beginning of an establishment effort to block outsider candidates from the nomination if primaries do not produce a clear winner.

“If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party,” said Carson in a statement, referring to Mr. Trump’s threat to run as an independent if he’s treated “unfairly.”

According to The Washington Post, a group of about 20 GOP insiders – including RNC chief Reince Priebus and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – met Monday for dinner at a restaurant near the US Capitol. The prospect of a deadlocked convention where Trump controlled a significant number of delegates “dominated” the conversation, according to the Post.

But other attendees characterized the discussion as less a Stop Trump meeting than prudent planning for a deadlock that might actually occur. With Trump maintaining a steady 20 to 30 percent in national polls and at least two or three other contenders positioned for a long run, the prospect of no one emerging from the primary process with a majority of delegates remains real, in this view.

“Real” is not the same as “likely,” however. The harsh winnowing process of losing primary votes has yet to begin. By March the most probable scenario is that only two candidates, or two contenders with a third lagging behind, will remain. A clear winner should emerge from such a scrum.

“Brokered convention story has swallowed my day,” tweeted Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics on Friday. “Scenario gets attention every cycle, then doesn’t happen. Probably won’t in ’16 either.”

As for Carson’s reaction, GOP officials maintained that the retired neurosurgeon had simply misread the situation.

RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, appearing on CNN, said the flap was “silly” and that “we’ll have a great convention. It’ll all work out.”

A Carson third-party bid would be a major obstacle to Republican victory in November 2016.

Carson’s poll numbers are falling and his campaign is going through a period of disarray. His close friend and business associate Armstrong Williams has publicly complained that campaign officials have done a poor job helping Carson prepare for speeches and other public events.

But Carson, like Trump, has a committed core of supporters. The ex-surgeon is popular with evangelicals, home schoolers, and self-described very conservative voters. And in an America where presidential voting is almost evenly split between the two parties, even a few percentage points shaved off Republican support in key states could tip the balance of national power.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.