Report: Ben Carson no longer sees path forward, won't attend tomorrow's debate

There were hints a week ago about him dropping out after Super Tuesday unless his electoral luck changed, and, er, why would it? So here we are.

He acknowledges in a statement that he can’t win and says he’s done debating. In that case, though, why not formally suspend the campaign? When I put that question to Twitter, I got a bunch of replies that boil down to “$$$$$$.” But if you read the statement he put out this afternoon, there’s a new hint that he might pull the plug later this week at CPAC. And the donation page on his campaign website is apparently gone.

I have decided not to attend the Fox News GOP Presidential Debate tomorrow night in Detroit. Even though I will not be in my hometown of Detroit on Thursday, I remain deeply committed to my home nation, America. I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results. However, this grassroots movement on behalf of “We the People” will continue. Along with millions of patriots who have supported my campaign for President, I remain committed to Saving America for Future Generations. We must not depart from our goals to restore what God and our Founders intended for this exceptional nation.

I appreciate the support, financial and otherwise, from all corners of America. 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.

Forty-eight hours ago, he published an op-ed on titled, “Why I intend to stay in the GOP presidential race.” Quote: “I’ve vowed to continue our campaign as long as we have revenue and support, until the people have decided.” Maybe the revenue finally dried up, or maybe it was mismanaged away. The newsiest Carson soundbite of the past few weeks was probably when he very casually suggested to CNN that some of his former campaign staffers might be guilty of financial malfeasance:

Carson parted with a handful of top advisers, including his campaign manager, Barry Bennett, at the turn of the new year. He has been one of the Republican field’s most outstanding fundraisers, but his campaign reinvests much of that money into raising more and has not posted as much cash on hand as some of his rivals.

“We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did — maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

He raised $3.8 million in the month of January, a far slower fundraising clip than he had enjoyed last fall, when he was briefly a national front-runner. But he still had $4.1 million on hand as of January 31, more than that of GOP contender John Kasich.

A lot of political commentators have wondered about that over the past year, minus the jolly laughter. Carson raised a ton of money earlier in the campaign and didn’t spend much on ads, leaving observers to wonder where it all went. The answer: Towards raising more money. Says David Graham, “If that money is being given by well-meaning grassroots conservatives for a campaign that’s designed not to win but to produce revenue for venders, isn’t it just a grift?” If it is, when did Carson finally figure it out?

Two obvious consequences here for anti-Trumpers. One: Carson offstage tomorrow night means more time for Rubio and Cruz to engage with Trump, which is probably good news given the outcome the last time they ganged up on him. Although a Twitter buddy snarks, not unreasonably, that Carson’s time will probably just be sucked up by Kasich talking over people. Two: Carson’s dwindling share of the vote will now split, but it’s hard to say whom it’ll split for. In theory his voters are mostly Cruz voters because they’re strongly Christian, but maybe Carson’s endless complaining about Cruz’s “dirty trick” in Iowa has spoiled that. (Reportedly, their summit in a storage closet before the South Carolina debate didn’t heal the rift.) Does that mean Rubio’s the more likely beneficiary? Or does it mean Trump, a fellow “outsider” who’s performed well with evangelicals, is? Better yet, does it really matter? Carson was at four percent in the last poll of Florida and five percent in the last poll of Ohio. Unless one of the remaining three candidates snaps up virtually all of his support, the net vote gain for any one of them as the leading second choice of Carson fans will be negligible. A bummer of an ending for an “outsider” candidate who, for a short time last year, was the only Republican in America able to put a dent in Trump’s polls.

Update: Carson dropping out might not matter much to the polls, but would Carson’s endorsement matter? I think it might for one candidate.

What better way to bat down days of “Does Trump disavow the KKK???” coverage than to roll out the support of the only black candidate in either party’s presidential field this year?