Ben Carson, who earlier this week said he was leaving the campaign trail for a few days to get some “fresh clothes,” has done his laundry.
But that was about all that was clear from his impromptu, short, Rome-referencing press conference called an hour in advance of his arrival in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
His campaign said that Carson would provide a “response to deceptive Iowa caucus tactics,” a reference to allegations that Ted Cruz’s campaign told caucus-goers that Carson was dropping out in an effort to take some of the neurosurgeon’s voters. And in a section marked “Additional Details,” there was another important note in the press release: “How a person conducts his life or campaign is an indication of who he is. In Matthew 7, Jesus Himself says that a tree—and people of faith—are known by their fruit, not just the words they say.”
(Normally, additional details may include specifics about requested arrival times for the press or the presence of refreshments or necessary attire. But Ben Carson’s campaign is far from normal.)
The rest of the Bible verse his campaign referenced details throwing individuals into the fires of hell, which in this instance seems to suggest Ted Cruz.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them,” Matthew 7 cheerfully goes.
It appeared that Carson was ready to vilify the Iowa caucus-winner, who already apologized personally for his perceived wrongdoing. But when given the opportunity to address Cruz, Carson stopped short of saying that he should be cast into hell.
“You can always tell who they are by their fruit,” Carson said after refusing to say if this verse was being applied to anyone in particular. “What I’m saying is that you—the press—and we, the American people, have a perfectly good way of evaluating people. We’ve always had a good way of evaluating people. Will we use it or will we ignore it?”
According to Carson, the press stoked this animosity between him and Cruz to make the country appear like the world of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.
“We’ve become like ancient Rome,” Carson said. “Everybody wanted to go to the Colosseum to see the blood and the gore—‘Oh, this is exciting!’—while their society was crumbling around them.”
When asked if Cruz should fire any staffers involved in the incident, Carson did not directly answer the question. Instead, he reminded the small audience of reporters that when Carson saw issues in his own campaign, he made changes.
Carson later said that Cruz personally apologized to him and made it clear that he didn’t agree with the decision of his staffers, which would seem to contradict what Carson said earlier, but who’s keeping track?
The only reason this caucus mischief happened in the first place was because Carson announced that he was shipping out to sunny Florida right before Iowans headed to caucus precincts. But that apparently wasn’t his fault, either.
“I didn’t make that announcement,” Carson said despite the fact that his campaign sent out a statement on Monday explicitly saying that he had to return home to retrieve some clothes.
“I didn’t say it, so don’t blame me,” he laughed in a somewhat soul-crushing way.
Carson is allegedly heading to campaign in the New Hampshire primary, where he has consistently polled at below 5 percent. But hey, this is only the beginning.
“One of the things they say represents America is baseball,” Carson surmised. “Have you noticed in a baseball game, there are nine innings and you don’t call the game after the first inning or two. There’s a reason for that.”