Thursday 22 March 2018

Carson 'buries hatchet' and backs Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with former presidential candidate Ben Carson
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with former presidential candidate Ben Carson

Rachael Alexander

Presidential candidate Ben Carson says he and Donald Trump have "buried the hatchet" after months of political wrangling, and confirmed he is endorsing the party front-runner's White House bid.

At a press conference in Palm Beach, Florida, Mr Carson - who left the race earlier this month - described "two Donald Trumps", the persona reflected on stage, and a private, "very cerebral" person who "considers things carefully".

In turn, Mr Trump described the retired neurosurgeon as a "special, special person" and a "friend" who is respected by everyone.

Mr Carson warned that it is "extremely dangerous" when political parties attempt to "thwart the will of the people", and urged politicians to "strengthen the nation", rather than create divisions.

The new show of harmony came after footage of Mr Trump's supporters attacking protesters and allegations that he is inciting violence cast new attention on the divisive nature of his candidacy.

Mr Trump had to answer questions on Thursday night about video footage which showed a supporter punching a protester at a rally in North Carolina - the latest in a string of scuffles at his often heated rallies.

He rejected the idea that he was responsible for the incidents and allegations that he sets a tone at his rallies which encourages violence.

He said: "I hope not. I truly hope not."

Mr Trump also pledged to defeat Islamic State if he is elected president, but said he will let the generals "play their own game".

He said he would "find the right generals" to do the job, but will allow them to then call the shots on how the military should approach the fight.

Mr Trump has said he wants to loosen laws that limit the use of torture if he is elected to the White House, but then appeared to reverse his stance on the use of torture after he was criticised by Republican national security experts, who called his policy views "wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle".

He was speaking the day after he refused to back away from his recent statement that "Islam hates the West", saying he would not change to be "politically correct".

But a victory for Mr Trump in the presidential election could spark a "clash of civilisations", according to a senior security official in Dubai.

Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the deputy chairman of police and general security in Dubai, said: "If Trump beats Hillary (Clinton), that means that the scenario of the clash of civilisations ... will come to light at the hands of the candidate and al-Baghdadi," referencing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A surprisingly civil Republican debate still came with a warning from front-runner Donald Trump to a party that's at war with itself over his insurgent candidacy: "Be smart and unify."

While the debate on Thursday night focused on issues rather than insults, it was not clear that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich were able to gain ground on the New York billionaire heading into the all-important primary votes on Tuesday in Florida and Ohio. Rubio, the Florida senator, must win his home state.

The same holds for Kasich, the Ohio governor.

Trump picked up an endorsement from one-time rival Ben Carson.

In all, 367 Republican delegates are at stake in Tuesday's voting, which also takes place in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and the Northern Mariana Islands, which could go a long way toward determining the Republican nominee.

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will also be competing on Tuesday, with Clinton out to regain momentum after her startling loss to Sanders in Michigan this week.

The latest Republican debate, while so relatively calm that Trump called it "elegant" still had its share of criticism.

Rubio's message: "I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says. The problem is, presidents can't just say anything they want because it has consequences around the world."

Cruz, eager to cement his position as the party's last best alternative to Trump, said: "His solutions don't work."

Trump was clearly intent on projecting a less bombastic, and more presidential, image.

"We're all in this together," he said. "We're going to come up with solutions. We're going to find the answer to things."

Irish Independent

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