GOP presidential contender Ben Carson said Friday he would consider bolting from the party if Republican leaders try to steer the party’s nomination toward a candidate of their liking in a “brokered” convention.
Mr. Carson’s warning followed a report in The Washington Post that said establishment leaders are growing increasingly concerned about Donald Trump’s hard-charging bid for the GOP nomination.
The Post reported that GOP officials and establishment figures shared their concerns with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at a dinner and urged him to be prepared to lay groundwork for the possibility of a floor fight at the convention if Mr. Trump performs well in the primaries, but not well enough to wrap up the nomination in a first-ballot vote.
That scenario would open the door to a “brokered” convention, where the establishment could coalesce around an alternative to Mr. Trump, the report said.
Mr. Priebus did not endorse the idea, The Post reported.
“If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party,” Mr. Carson said in a statement Friday.
“I pray that the report in The Post this morning was incorrect. If it is correct, every voter who is standing for change must know they are being betrayed. I won’t stand for it,” the retired neurosurgeon said.
Mr. Trump signed a “pledge” earlier this year vowing to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee and not to run as an independent candidate if he fails to win.
The New York billionaire, though, has recently taunted the GOP with an independent bid after coming under fire over his calls for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. until the nation gets a better handle on stopping terrorists from coming into the country.
“If they don’t treat me with a certain amount of decorum and respect. If they don’t treat me as the front-runner … if the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open,” Mr. Trump told CNN this week.
Mr. Carson on Friday delivered a similar message, saying that if the “powerful try to manipulate” the nomination process, than the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next summer will be the party’s last.
“I am prepared to lose fair and square, as I am sure is Donald,” he said. “But I will not sit by and watch a theft. I intend on being the nominee. If I am not, the winner will have my support. If the winner isn’t our nominee, then we have a massive problem. My campaign is about ‘We the People’ not ‘They the Powerful.’ “