Carson appears set to drop out of presidential race

Ben Carson Sees No 'Political Path Forward' in Presidential Race

(Reuters) - Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson appeared set to end his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday after failing to win a single state despite a short-lived surge of support last fall in the early-voting state of Iowa.

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"I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening's Super Tuesday primary results," Carson said in a statement. He said he would also skip the next Republican debate, scheduled for Thursday night in Detroit.

I have decided not to attend the Fox News GOP Presidential Debate tomorrow night in Detroit. Even though I will not be...

Posted by Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Carson signaled his withdrawal after Donald Trump consolidated his lead in the Republican race with a string of victories on Tuesday, but failed to eclipse his rivals or draw reluctant party leaders into his corner.

Carson drew the national spotlight to him in October when he pushed past Trump among party voters in some opinion polls in Iowa, which kicked off the state-by-state presidential nominating contests in February.

RELATED: Ben Carson on the campaign trail

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Carson appears set to drop out of presidential race
MT. AYR, IA - JANUARY 22 : Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is introduced during his 'Trust in God Townhall' campaign stop January 22, 2016 in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Carson, who is seeking the nomination from the Republican Party is on the presidential campaign trail across Iowa ahead of the Iowa Caucus taking place February 1. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a Liberty University Convocation in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. As retired neurosurgeon Carson has risen in the polls, media reports have revisited his accounts of acts of violence as a child, a key part of the redemption story he discusses on the campaign trail. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media before speaking at a gala for the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida at PGA National Resort on November 6, 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida. Carson has come under media scrutiny for possibly exaggerating his background and other statements he has made recently. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 16: Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson (L) eats a piece of pizza while touring the Iowa State Fair on August 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 29: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before a campaign event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Scenes around the the Value Voters Summit on September 25, 2015 in Washington DC. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson takes the stage at the event. Dr Carson speaks to the media after the speach. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attendees wait for Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, to arrive during a campaign stop at the birthplace of the Michigan Republican Party in Jackson, Michigan, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Carson, the third candidate in the Republican race to have never held elected office, saw his numbers drop following the debate last week. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, listens as he attends a service at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Carson will be speaking at the Iowa State Fair, which is expected to host 18 presidential candidates and runs until Aug. 23. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, eats a slice of pizza as he tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. In a Sunday interview with Fox News, Carson doubled down on his assertion that a speech given by President Barack Obama intended to sell the American public on his nuclear deal with Iran contained 'coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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But he saw his support drop after a series of missteps in some of his comments about national security in the aftermath of the attacks in San Bernardino, California and Paris.

Carson's withdrawal would leave four candidates vying to be the Republican nominee in the Nov. 8 election to replace Democratic President Barack Obama, winnowing down a field that was once crowded and is now clearly dominated by Trump.

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Trump's main rivals, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Rubio, 44, said they were determined to remain in the race.

Cruz, 45, won Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the Alaska caucuses, bolstering the conservative senator's argument that he has the best chance of stopping Trump.

Trump holds a lead in the race to lock down delegates who pick the nominee at the party convention in July. He has secured 316 delegates, according to a New York Times count, ahead of Cruz's 226. Carson has won just eight delegates.

A nominee needs 1,237 delegates to win and the race could heat up with March 15 contests in Florida and Ohio. There are 99 delegates at stake in Florida and 66 in Ohio, and in both states, the winner takes the whole haul.

Facing strong party disapproval over his ideas to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, deport 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country, Trump declared he had expanded the party by drawing in disaffected blue-collar Democrats who like his tough-on-trade rhetoric.

"I am a unifier," he said in Florida on Tuesday night. "I would love to see the Republican Party and everybody get together and unify, and when we unify, there's nobody that's going to beat us."

The country's top two elected Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, chastised Trump this week over his delay in disavowing an endorsement by David Duke, a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

Trump insisted he had disavowed Duke and said he did not know Ryan well but was sure they would get along.

"And if I don't, he's going to have to pay a big price, OK?" the former reality TV star added in remarks that could further inflame party tensions. Ryan's representatives said they would not comment.

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