Dr. Ben Carson, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, told Breitbart News that he’s questioning whether the Republican Party can be any better than the Democratic Party moving forward. Carson’s comments, made on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel, come in the wake of a report from the Washington Post this week about a backroom meeting with high-level GOP insiders at which a brokered convention for the presidential nominating contest was discussed.
There have been a lot of people who have come into the process over the last year because they have the impression that maybe we’re going to do things right this time and that we are willing to recognize that the people are at the pinnacle. The Republican Party has shown some promise of perhaps bringing back some integrity, and then we hear all of a sudden about this potential back room dealing where you thwart the will of the people. And, obviously, if that’s the case—there’s going to be a lot of disillusioned people and you’re talking to one of them here. Obviously we would fight that—that’s the purpose of issuing such a statement, and garnering support for making sure that we do things the right way.
One of the Post reporters who broke the story, Robert Costa, appeared on the show as well on Saturday to detail his report. In the appearance, he laid out how representatives from the GOP presidential campaigns of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—but not those of Donald Trump or Carson—were present at the meeting. The meeting was attended by Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“It was at a restaurant called The Source, which is near the Capitol, an upscale Asian fusion restaurant. It’s a power brokers’ habitat, it’s one place where lobbyists go all the time, it’s a favorite of Reince Priebus,” Costa said on Breitbart News Saturday. He went on:
What made this meeting really interesting is that it was not just Priebus meeting with party officials, and party insiders and lobbyists and donors, this was Mitch McConnell—who’s running all Senate races next year—meeting with the Party Chairman, and it was a group of about 20 to 25 people, and they went upstairs. The meeting was called strictly off the record in the invitation, meaning you were not supposed to talk about it. You actually had some representatives from the Rubio campaign there, you had a Bush representative, and it went on for two hours. By the end, a brokered convention really seemed to be a big thing that people were anxious about.
In the piece Costa wrote with Tom Hamburger, he named the Rubio and Bush campaign staffers who were there. For Rubio, it was Whit Ayres. For Bush, it was Vin Weber.
In response to the news, per Costa, that Rubio’s and Bush’s campaigns had representatives at the meeting, Carson said it was “disturbing.” Carson said when asked about that revelation:
That would obviously be a disturbing thing, if that is true. It shouldn’t be too hard to identify whether the truth is there or not. But clearly even if it is true I think we can make an appeal to the RNC and to the leadership to just stop for a moment—slap yourself in the face, pour some cold water over your head and say ‘wait a minute guys, this is what the people are outraged about!’ Is it possible that one of the parties can be reasonable, can be responsive to the will of the people? I think if one of the parties would do that, it would be an overwhelming victory.
Costa told Breitbart News Saturday that this meeting highlights the discord that currently exists within the GOP over the presidential primary. He said:
And it also highlights the crowded field. One big reason for the discussion on Monday was that some of the highest ranking people in the party truly believe now privately that you could have three to four candidates, different candidates, win the first three or four states. And that could lead to a protracted primary fight. So this was not so much about stopping Trump, though many in that room would like to stop Donald Trump. This was about recognition that the field will not get smaller between now and the end of January. It’s very unlikely you’re going to have mass dropouts, maybe a few here or there. If you have multiple people and no clear frontrunner, the party logistically and institutionally and politically needs to start grappling with the idea that a brokered convention would not be a fantasy—it’d be a reality, perhaps, on the horizon.
Costa added that Trump’s and Carson’s allies are worried the party insiders are going to use the levers of process to take power from their surging populist campaigns.
“If you’re an ally of Trump or Carson—even if Priebus and McConnell weren’t working against them in that room, and people close to both of those men say there were not working against Carson and Trump—there’s a sense that Carson and Trump people simply weren’t there, and there’s a fear that the party establishment, even in the year of the outsider, could take over,” Costa said.
Carson, in response to the news in the Washington Post, issued a scathing statement saying he’d consider leaving the GOP over developments such as party insiders stealing the nomination from a rightly elected conservative. On Breitbart News Saturday, however, he said he would not launch an independent bid for president.
“No I would not, because I think that would guarantee Hillary’s victory, and we have to be able to look at the big picture here,” Carson said, when asked if he’d go independent and run against whoever wins the GOP nomination and whoever wins the Democrat nomination. “If we get another progressive president and they get two or three Supreme Court picks, then America as we know it is gone. We have to be able to understand that, and that we can’t let our emotions get in the way.”