Ben Carson Just Pulled A Ross From 'Friends' & Said His Campaign Is Just "On A Break"
Following a Super Tuesday massacre — though even the term "massacre" suggests some level of momentum or interest that simply wasn't there — Ben Carson admitted that he sees "no political path" forward for his presidential run. In a statement released Wednesday, Carson revealed that he would not participate in Thursday's Fox News GOP Presidential Debate (yup, they're still doing those) in his hometown of Detroit, adding he was skeptical about his campaign's viability. However, Carson also made it clear he wasn't calling it quits — at least, not just yet.
"I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results," Carson stated. "However, this grassroots movement on behalf of 'We the People' will continue." Does this mean that Carson is still technically running? The rest of his statement doesn't particularly clarify that rather significant point. "Gratefully, my campaign decisions are not constrained by finances; rather by what is in the best interests of the American people. I will discuss more about the future of this movement during my speech on Friday at CPAC in Washington, D.C."
Since Carson accumulated a grand total of eight delegates on Super Tuesday, anything short of putting his campaign out of its misery can be considered some mixture of excessive cockeyed optimism and reckless hubris at this point.
However, by all accounts, Carson hasn't actually dropped out of the running for the Republican nomination. As Trip Gabriel of The New York Times noted, Carson is "stopping short of suspending his campaign," though he added that "after his dismal showing in the Super Tuesday states, his campaign is effectively over." The headline of Slate's story on Carson's sort-of-dropping-out announcement is "Ben Carson Can't Even Quit The GOP Race Right."
On the surface, what Carson is doing doesn't make a terrible amount of sense — though following conventional campaign wisdom hasn't necessarily been a hallmark of his run. And in all fairness, that same criticism could be applied (even more so) to the entire Republican race.
One theory, though, is that this dragged-out declaration might be Carson's attempt at exiting the race while stretching out (or briefly reclaiming) his time in the political limelight. After all, his announcement that he would not participate in the 11th — I repeat, with fatigue and disdain as emphasis, the 11th — Republican debate was treated as breaking news. Alerts popped up on our phones; alerts that actually featured "Ben Carson" in them. The retired pediatric neurosurgeon was launched back into the realm of political relevance for another 15 minutes, probably because people thought this was his final act.
But now we're all going to have to follow him at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) on Friday if we care to see his next move — and I'm less than certain that most of us do. It seems as if Carson wants to drop out of the race but not disappear into the bowels of political obscurity. He wants to have it both ways — like Ross from Friends wanting to keep Rachel as his girlfriend after indulging in a one-night stand. Like Ross, Carson is kind of claiming that he and his campaign are "on a break."
Or, more accurately, Carson may have taken a cue from the writers behind Friends. They realized the "We were on a break" twist allowed them to stretch out the "Will they or won't they?" dynamic between Ross and Rachel and hook viewers into the show for another seven seasons (Ross uttered the famous line in season three). Could it be that Carson is using the political equivalent of "We were on break" to squeeze out a bit more interest in his campaign?
More importantly, will Carson claiming that his campaign isn't over yet, but rather is "on a break," help him live to see another day of political significance? While America may have been willing to watch multiple reattempts at a Ross-and-Rachel reunion — including a a drunken elopement (and subsequent divorce) in Las Vegas and the birth of their baby, Emma — it's been months since the country cared enough for a Carson cliffhanger.