On Friday, retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson made it official. At the Conservative Political Action Conference, he announced that his bid for the party’s nomination had come to an end.
"I did the math, I did the delegates count...and I realized it simply wasn't going to happen," he said, in explaining his decision. In announcing his withdrawal from the race, he had earlier said he had taken the job of national chairman for My Faith Votes, a nonpartisan organization focused on increasing voter turnout among Christian Americans. He didn't say whom he would endorse for the presidency.
Asked whether he watched last night's debate, he said he partly blames the media. He said he encouraged other candidates to "rise above the level of the press."
The former director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Carson became a conservative rock star in February 2013, when he delivered the keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. He roundly criticized the policies of President Obama, who was sitting two chairs away. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial called "Ben Carson for President" the very next day.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Carson announced his retirement, published his book, America the Beautiful, and began making the rounds at conservative events and in the media. He announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in May 2015, and by September he had raised approximately $20 million. In October, he briefly posed a threat to frontrunner Donald Trump’s domination of national opinion polls.
Dr. Carson managed an anemic fourth place showing in the Iowa Caucuses, garnering 9.3% of the vote. At the New Hampshire primary, he finished in eighth place with 2.3% of the vote, behind former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who had already dropped out of the race.
Then came Super Tuesday, and Dr. Carson failed to win a single state. The next day, he announced that he did not see a “political path forward," and while he stopped short of officially suspending his campaign, it was hard to see a justification for him to press on.
Dr. Carson is now out of the race, and it won’t be the same without him. He will be fondly remembered for the things he said during his campaign that were clearly not scripted or focus-grouped, but sometimes made people scratch their heads in wonder.
Fortune brings you a poignant look back at the most curious pronouncements of the man who inspired the Rolling Stone article, “What the Hell Is Going on With Ben Carson?”
"My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids in order to store grain. And all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs' graves. But you know, it would have to be something awfully big, if you stop and think about it. And I don't think it would just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain."
"You know ObamaCare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery."
June 5, 2014
“Because 9/11 is an isolated incident.”
– On why ObamaCare is worse than 9/11.
January 26, 2015
"They can go right down the street and buy a cake, but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to make my cake even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison in that cake."
– On a gay couple suing a bakery for refusing to sell them a wedding cake on religious grounds.
March 4, 2015
"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay.”
– On his belief that homosexuality is a choice.
August 28, 2015
“There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country.”
– On reproductive rights.
October 5, 2015
"There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking -- but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."
– On gun control.
October 6, 2015
"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can't get us all.'"
– On mass shootings.
November 5, 2015
“You wouldn't need hermetically sealed compartments for a sepulcher. You would need that if you were trying to preserve grain for a long period of time."
– On his belief that the great pyramids of Egypt were built to store grain.
January 28, 2016
“Putin is a one-horse, uh, country. Oil and energy.”
– On U.S. foreign policy.
February 25, 2016
“I would go through and I would look at what a person’s life has been. What have they done in the past? What kind of judgments have they made? What kind of associations do they have? That will tell you a lot more than an interview will tell you. The fruit salad of their life is what I will look at.”
– On his criteria for selecting a Supreme Court justice.
February 25, 2016
“Can somebody attack me, please?”
– In the final debate before Super Tuesday.
Daniel Bukszpan is a New York-based freelance writer.