Ben Carson: I've been helping Trump act more "presidential"

A silly end to a long, silly week.

Imagine how much nastier the current “Lyin’ Ted’s a cheater and his wife is ugly” news cycle might have been without Dr. C influencing Trump to elevate the discourse.

“I’ve had talks about being presidential, about toning it down a bit, appealing to a broader group of people,” Carson said in a phone interview on Friday morning. “You did notice that he wasn’t nearly as caustic in the last debate. People appreciated that. It’s a matter of cultivating and capitalizing on that.”

But Carson acknowledged he couldn’t hold back Trump’s instincts forever. Trump provoked another food fight this week when he accused Ted Cruz of disseminating a racy magazine photo of Trump’s wife, Melania, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi. He went further, retweeting a supporter’s unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, prompting Cruz to lash out and call Trump a “sniveling coward.”…

“You know, when I was in the race, that was what I complained about constantly, the fact that it was getting into personalities,” he said. “We have all these serious things. Nobody wanted to hear that. We want to hear juicy stuff … Maybe it’s just human nature.”

I wonder if Trump will end up crossing any lines before the general election that will lead to one of his big-ticket supporters un-endorsing him. I can sort of imagine that with Carson given how heavily he’s invested in the idea of moral improvement for America, although he’s gotten a lot of mileage out of his “there are two Donald Trumps” talking point lately. Why would he un-endorse the good Trump, with whom he’d had so many pleasant chats, just because the bad one is apt to rhetorically kick his opponents in the nuts at every opportunity?

I can almost imagine Christie pulling the plug too. That feels as strange to me writing it as it must feel to you reading it given Christie’s role as devoted Trump sidekick on primary nights, but he sure does seem to be keeping a low media profile lately. Ever since Stephanopoulos asked him to defend some of Trump’s greatest hits on his Sunday show last month, Christie’s been ducking major media appearances. He’s probably enough of a genuine centrist, and certainly enough of a professional politician, to be cringing internally at Trump’s lower moments despite his own reputation for “brashness.” But I doubt he’d ever un-endorse for the simple reason that he gains nothing by doing so and stands to lose a cabinet position if he does. Anti-Trumpers will always see him as a rat, even if he recants later. He might as well stick with Trumpers and hope it pays off.

That’s one thing that many Trump-supporting politicians have in common: They have no obvious path to higher office in the party as it stands now. Christie’s not getting elected to anything else in New Jersey; the same is likely true for Sarah Palin in her home state. Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich haven’t formally endorsed Trump but they’ve all but endorsed and neither of them is likely to ever hold office again. They’re better off rolling the dice on Trump and hoping that he appoints them to something, or at least does them a solid by helping out however he can with their next media gigs. Ironically, Carson might be the one prominent Trump fan who could conceivably win office somewhere, whether in Maryland or Florida. He’s plenty likable and is even more widely known after the primary than he was before. But who knows how electable he’ll be once he spends the next seven months tentatively defending everything Trump says? Go watch that clip from “The View” from a few days ago. You can feel Whoopi Goldberg’s obvious respect for him draining away in real time. She’s a lefty, of course, but her reaction to Carson isn’t much different from anti-Trump righties’.

Speaking of sounding more presidential, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tweeted out a story this afternoon about people being paid thousands of dollars to protest at Trump’s rallies that was published by an obviously fake news site. The very same site published a story two weeks ago about Trump tweeting out photos of his schlong. Lord only knows if Lewandowski sent his tweet because he got suckered or because he didn’t care whether it was false or not. ($3,500 just to get someone to protest at a rally? C’mon.) Maybe it’s time for a chat with Dr. Ben about elevating the discourse.

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