"I'll still be proud of my effort because I think I've done very well," Donald Trump says

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
Updated October 27, 2015 01:40 PM
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Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson now claiming Donald Trump‘s front-runner mantle in a new national poll and two recent Iowa surveys, the apparently humbled billionaire businessman concedes, “It’s certainly a possibility that I won’t make it.”

“I’ll still be proud of my effort because I think I’ve done very well. I’m not a politician; I’ve run so far a great race,” Trump said in a phone interview Tuesday with MSNBC’s Morning Joe after a new national poll by The New York Times and CBS News put Carson, a former neurosurgeon, in the top spot in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Two polls of Iowa voters last week – one by Quinnipiac, the other by Bloomberg – showed Carson surging past Trump into first place by significant margins, especially among women. Trump disputed those results, telling NBC News that Quinnipiac and Bloomberg “do not like” him.

Another sign of Iowa winds not blowing Trump’s way turned up Tuesday on the front page of The Des Moines Register, with a story headlined, “Iowans: Trump’s attack on Carson’s faith will fail.”

Without naming Carson, who is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Protestant Christian denomination, Trump told a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday: “I love Iowa. And, look, I don’t have to say it, I’m Presbyterian … Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about.”

The next day, Trump told ABC News he wasn’t casting aspersions on Carson’s faith.

“I’d never say bad about any religion,” he added. “I said exactly, ‘I don’t know about it.’ That’s not an insult.”

But according to the Register, some Iowans saw it as a sneak attack.

Mike Demastus, a pastor at Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, told the local paper: “It will fail miserably. For Donald Trump, as a name-only Presbyterian, to be criticizing somebody else for their faith statements is laughable. This is a guy who can’t even quote a Bible scripture to someone.”

Leading the pack, if only in some surveys, comes with downsides, though – starting with heightened scrutiny.

And so Carson’s chuckling comments on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday – about once trying to stab someone when he was a teenager – were revived on Tuesday in a Vine video under the slogan “Ben Carson: Heal. Inspire. Stab.”

The clip was pulled from Carson’s Meet the Press appearance, in which the doctor-candidate tried to explain why his quiet style should not be mistaken for a lack of energy.

“I have plenty of energy,” he said. “But, you know, I am soft-spoken. I do have a tendency to be relaxed. I wasn’t always like that. There was a time when I was, you know, very volatile. But, you know, I changed.”

Carson elaborated:

“As a teenager, I would go after people with rocks, and bricks, and baseball bats, and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone. And, you know, fortunately, you know, my life has been changed. And I’m a very different person now.”

Haven’t heard that story before? In his memoir, Gifted Hands, Carson wrote about his temper and one argument he had with a friend – over a radio station – when they were in the ninth grade:

“In that instant, blind anger – pathological anger – took possession of me. Grabbing the camping knife I carried in my back pocket, I snapped it open and lunged for the boy who had been my friend. With all the power of my young muscles, I thrust the knife toward his belly. The knife hit his big, heavy ROTC belt buckle with such force that the blade snapped and dropped to the ground.”