Responding to Ben Carson’s surge in Iowa, Donald Trump said Tuesday he’ll stick with the presidential race, even if he loses the luxury of running from atop the polls.
“I’m in it to the end,” Trump said in a phone interview with MSNBC. Asked if he could stomach running from behind, the billionaire businessman who likes to boast “I’m a winner” sounded unusually introspective. He conceded he might lose his bid for the Republican nomination.
“It’s certainly a possibility that I won’t make it,” he said. “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.”
With Carson, who like Trump has never held public office, threatening his lead nationally, Trump said it may be the retired surgeon’s turn to face the heat. “A lot of things will come out now and we’ll see how he holds up to the scrutiny,” Trump said.
But Trump said he still holds a big advantage over Carson and his more politically experienced rivals such as Jeb Bush: “I’ve got more money than anybody.”
“At the right time,” he said, “I’m willing to spend whatever is necessary.”
Ben Carson has placed first in a recent national Republican presidential primary poll, pushing Donald Trump into second place for the first time since June.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, received 26 percent of the support in the New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday morning.
Trump placed second with 22 percent of the support of those surveyed, trailing by less than the 6 percentage-point margin of error. The poll of 575 Republican primary voters was conducted Oct. 21 through 25.
The Republican candidates will meet on the debate stage on Wednesday night, providing a third opportunity for them to differentiate themselves.
The national poll comes after three conducted in Iowa, the first state to vote in the primary process, showed Trump trailing Carson for the first time.
For months, Trump had appeared impermeable to attacks from his Republican rivals in the November 2016 race for the White House. Despite criticism, gaffes and attacks, the New York real estate mogul held a tight grip on the first-place position in dozens of polls.