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Ben Carson to endorse Donald Trump: reports
[WASHINGTON] Retired neurosurgeon and onetime Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is set to endorse Donald Trump, a rival who once mocked him, on Friday, according to US media.
Mr Carson himself told Fox News radio on Thursday that "I'm certainly leaning" towards a Trump endorsement, and an aide confirmed that Mr Carson and Mr Trump met recently.
The former candidate, who dropped his bid last week, will endorse Mr Trump at a press conference Friday in Florida, the Washington Post said, citing people familiar with the situation.
Florida, a main prize in the 2016 nominations race, votes Tuesday, and Mr Trump is ahead there in polling. He is seeking to best Senator Marco Rubio, who sees his home state as a do-or-die contest.
The religiously conservative Mr Carson's outsider campaign soared last year but ultimately lost steam as Mr Carson stumbled over questions about the veracity of aspects of his compelling life story.
Mr Trump also mercilessly taunted and mocked Mr Carson on the campaign trail, particularly over Mr Carson's claim that he once tried to stab a fellow student but that the boy's belt buckle prevented the knife from breaking the skin.
But Mr Trump later sided with Mr Carson over a dispute in Iowa, when Senator Ted Cruz's campaign wrongly told voters that Mr Carson had dropped out of the race before the state's February 1 caucuses.
Mr Carson said he believed the billionaire real estate mogul will be able to put aside his caustic, controversial rhetoric that has become a hallmark of his public appearances.
"There are two Donald Trumps. There's the Donald Trump that you see on television and who gets out in front of big audiences, and there's the Donald Trump behind the scenes," Mr Carson told Fox.
"They're not the same person. One's very much an entertainer, and one is actually a thinking individual."