Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump Friday, calling the blunt-talking billionaire front-runner who once likened Carson to a child molester, a “very cerebral” person in private and the best candidate to lead the country.
In a wide-ranging press conference in Florida, Carson quickly attributed Trump’s harsh assessments of him to the rough and tumble of politics.
“Well, first of all, we buried the hatchet,” Carson told reporters. “That was political stuff. And, you know, that happens in American politics, the politics of personal destruction… But I do recognize that it is part of the process.”
On the campaign trail and in interviews, Trump unleashed sharp verbal broadsides against Carson when the two were close in the polls early in the primary season.
He compared Carson’s self-described “pathological temper” to that of a child molester’s, telling CNN in November that “you don’t cure a child molester.” He described Carson as “super low energy” and questioned his Seventh Adventist faith.
“It’s politics. It’s tough stuff. It’s a tough business,” Trump told reporters Friday. “I used to think real estate in Manhattan was tough. A lot of things happen in politics that don’t happen anywhere else. We understand that.”
The endorsement by Carson, who was popular among evangelical conservative voters, is the latest move by Trump to try to coalesce a Republican Party fractured by candidacy and an effort to show a that he has the temperament to occupy the White House.
To that point, Carson said that there are two Donald Trumps – the public sharp-elbowed, bombastic businessman and television reality show host and a warmer, more thoughtful, “intelligent man who cares deeply about America.”
“There’s the one you see on the stage and there’s the one who’s very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully,” he said. “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.”
Last month, Trump score New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement after he dropped out of the presidential sweepstakes.
In January, he secured support from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s 2012 vice presidential running mate.