Carson's comeback to Trump's insults: 'Pray for him'

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. presidential candidate Ben Carson recommended praying for rival Donald Trump after the real-estate mogul and television personality, in a 95-minute rant in Iowa, likened him to a child molester, Carson's business manager said on Friday.

"When I spoke with Dr. Carson about this yesterday how we should respond, you know he was so sad about it. He said: "Pray for him." He feels sorry for him because he really likes Mr. Trump," Armstrong Williams, who often acts as Carson's surrogate in the media, told CNN.

"To see him just imploding before our very eyes - it's just sad to watch," Williams said.

Click through images from Donald Trump's visit to Iowa:

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Donald Trump town hall in Atkinson, NH
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Carson's comeback to Trump's insults: 'Pray for him'
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures while speaking at a town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump autographs a book on his way out after speaking at a town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at a town hall meeting at Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes an exaggerated gesture while speaking at a town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points into the crowd as he heads off stage after speaking at town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks out from his car window as he leaves after speaking at a town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at a town hall meeting at Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
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Speaking in Iowa on Thursday evening, Trump, a leading contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election, cast doubt on Carson's oft-reported story of lunging at someone with a hunting knife as a child, an episode Carson says led him to his Christian faith.

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson has emerged as the main challenger to Trump's top position in national polls and popularity in early deciding states. A Reuters/Ipsos poll this month found 31 percent of Republicans favored Trump. Carson followed at 18 percent.

"Give me a break," Trump said in his Thursday speech, where he also lashed out at other Republican candidates and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. "How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe that crap?"

He said the incident showed Carson had a "pathological" temper.

"If you're pathological, there's no cure for that," Trump said. "If you're a child molester, there's no cure. They can't stop you."

Carson has said his intended stabbing victim's belt buckle blocked his knife, a detail Trump singled out in his rant.

"Lo and behold! It hit the belt. It hit the belt and the knife broke," Trump said mockingly.

Other Republican candidates came to Carson's defense early Friday and slammed Trump for his controversial plans on foreign policy and immigration.

"Anyone can turn a multi-million dollar inheritance into more money, but all the money in the world won't make you as smart as Ben Carson," candidate Carly Fiorina wrote on Facebook.

Republican candidate Lindsey Graham called Carson a "good, decent man," and said of Trump: "I think he melted down last night."

"He has no clue what he's talking about," Graham, a South Carolina senator, said on Fox News. "Over time, that will take a toll - I hope."

Related: See Ben Carson through the years:

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Ben Carson through the years
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Carson's comeback to Trump's insults: 'Pray for him'
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 12: (JAPAN OUT) (VIDEO CAPTURE) In this image from video Dr. Ben Carson talks about his life and education August 12, 2001 in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Carson was profiled for a CNN program called 'America's Best: Science and Medicine,' for his preeminence in the field of neurosurgery. (Photo by CNN via Getty Images)
Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, Ben Carson, Ralph Abernathy and Levy Watkins at Johns Hopkins University during a celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, Baltimore, Maryland, 1980. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Dr. Donlin Long, director of neurosurgery, left, and Dr. Ben Carson director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.,, holds a brain model of the conjoined twins who separated in a 22-hour surgery, Sept. 7, 1987. (AP Photo/Fred Kraft)
FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2004, file photo, Dr. Ben Carson, then-director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, holds a model of the heads of conjoined twins Tabea and Lea Block of Lemgo, Germany, during a news conference in Baltimore. Carson is the only 2016 candidate for president who has never led a state or company or run for political office, but the retired neurosurgeon maintains that someone who can lead life-or-death operations surely can run the country. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)
Darius Rucker, Candy Carson and Dr. Ben Carson M.D., president and co-founder of Carson Scholars Fund (Photo by Louis Myrie/WireImage)
President Bush places the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Johns Hopkins University's director of pediatric neurosurgery Dr. Ben Carson, as he takes part in a ceremony for the 2008 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Thursday, June 19, 2008, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, right, signs a book for Delegate William Frank, R-Baltimore County, in Annapolis, Md., Friday, March 8, 2013 after Carson, who is director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, spoke at a legislative prayer breakfast. Carson said Friday that while people have been urging him to run for president, he doesn’t aspire to run for office. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson is interviewed during a live streaming Web-A-Thon with Wake Up America September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson speaks as the keynote speaker at the Wake Up America gala Event September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson (C) chats with guests after a live streaming Web-A-Thon with Wake Up America September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
Dr. Ben Carson, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 8, 2014. Saturday marks the third and final day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US conservative Ben Carson is surrounded by supporters as he waits to be interviewed at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington,DC on February 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon, addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Carson is the author of 'One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save Americas Future' and 'America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great'. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US conservative Ben Carson addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on February 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Ben Carson attends the National Action Network (NAN) national convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on April 8, 2015 in New York City. The network, founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991 is hosting various politicians, organizers and religious leaders to talk about the nation's most pressing issues. The conservative Carson is widely rumored to be considering a GOP presidential run in 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Ben Carson arrives to speak during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 4: Republican Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, speaks as he officially announces his candidacy for President of the United States at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts May 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Carson was scheduled to travel today to Iowa, but changed his plans when his mother became critically ill. He now will be traveling to Dallas instead to be with his mother Sonya. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
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