“There are two different Donald Trumps: there’s the one you see on the stage and there’s the one who’s very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully,” Ben Carson said Friday as he became the second former Republican candidate to back Trump in the White House race.
The soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon, who dropped out of the race last week, said the American people would be “comforted” when they discover Trump’s gentler side.
The thousands of protesters who showed up for Trump’s rally Friday evening at the University of Illinois at Chicago – along with thousands of supporters – showed little indication they had noticed anything but the candidate’s combative campaign style.
The university arena turned into a chaotic scene as the two warring sides amped up their positions. A half hour after the rally was slated to begin, a Trump campaign staffer announced it was being postponed for safety reasons, unleashing competing chants of “We dumped Trump!” and “We want Trump!” throughout the packed venue.
“We made a great decision not to have the rally,” Trump told CNN after meeting with law enforcement and making the call.
“I am not a person that wants to see violence,” he added.
Trump blamed protesters for creating disturbances at his campaign events and said it is a “love fest” among his supporters.
Friday’s event in Chicago stood out because the huge number of protesters virtually matched the number of Trump supporters, as opposed to other Trump campaign events where protesters have been a very small, albeit vocal, minority.
Earlier in the day, speaking at a public event in St. Louis, Missouri, Trump was interrupted repeatedly by protesters who were led out of the event by police and security, an increasingly common occurrence at his raucous rallies.
“He’s all mouth, get him out,” Trump shouted as one of the protesters was led out. “Go back to mommy,” he said as another protester was led away.
The latest endorsement for Trump followed a Republican debate in Miami on Thursday night at which Trump and the remaining three candidates in the Republican race struck a markedly more civil tone.
Carson shot to the top of the Republican pack last year but faltered in the early nominating contests. His endorsement is unlikely to dramatically shift the Republican race, but it gives Trump a boost as the Republican establishment cranks up attacks, and comes just days before crucial nominating contests in the battle to be the party’s presidential candidate for the November 8 election.
The Republican primaries to be held on Tuesday in five states will be critical for Trump to cement his lead, and to determine whether U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Ohio Governor John Kasich, whose home states are among those holding contests on Tuesday, will be able to continue with their increasingly long-shot candidacies. Trump’s nearest rival in the race is U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Carson’s comments on Friday aimed to soften Trump’s public image after a campaign marked by his demeaning personal attacks on opponents, harsh comments about Mexican immigrants and calls to temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the country.