Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump walks behind former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson after receiving Carson's endorsement at a campaign event in Palm Beach, Fl., March 11, 2016. 
Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Ben Carson struggles to defend Trump in combative interview

Former GOP presidential contender Ben Carson offered a lukewarm defense of Donald Trump’s many controversies on Thursday, telling the hosts of ABC’s “The View” that “we have to work with what we have, not necessarily what we ideally would want” and that Trump’s bombast is intended for political gain.

He also declined to refute charges from the hosts of the show that Trump is a liar, saying only, “tell me a politician who doesn’t tell lies?”

Carson, who endorsed Trump after dropping out of the presidential race earlier this month, was pressed on how he’d react if Trump described his own wife with some of his more incendiary comments on immigrants. Carson said that “when you’re very nice, respectful…it gets you where it got me, nowhere.”

“My point is he and some of the other politicians, they do what people want. they say what people want to hear,” he added.

When host Whoopi Goldberg interjected, declaring “that’s how Hitler got in,” Carson again defended Trump: “It’s an important voice and it needs to be out there.”

“But what we have to do is recognize we have to work with what we have, not necessarily what we ideally would want,” he said, adding that “we the people are largely responsible” and arguing Americans must “stand up for what we believe…because the politicians will respond to that.”

The combative interview, in which the show’s hosts repeatedly called Trump a “liar,” a “racist” and compared him to Hitler, incensed the GOP frontrunner, sending him to Twitter to express his disgust.

Carson’s tepid defense of Trump’s rhetoric comes as the GOP frontrunner is again making headlines for controversial remarks, this time about opponent Ted Cruz’s wife. Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz in a tweet this week in response to a web ad from an anti-Trump super PAC that featured a racy picture of Trump’s wife Melania taken from a GQ photo shoot. On Wednesday, Trump retweeted a meme created by a supporter that featured an unflattering photo of Heidi juxtaposed with a sleek, airbrushed photo of Melania.

Carson distanced himself from the spat, telling the hosts of “The View” that “I don’t condone any of that from anybody,” and insisted his endorsement of the candidate was “not an endorsement of anything that anybody has said or done throughout their lives.”

“The reason, again, that i’m endorsing him is because i recognize that we are heading down the exact same path that we have been on all along,” he said.

Last week, however, Carson seemed to acknowledge another reason for endorsing Trump — he said the GOP frontrunner had promised him a role in his administration, “certainly in an advisory capacity,” something that’s prohibited by federal law. But on “The View,” Carson walked that back, saying “nothing was promised, nor would I accept anything.”

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Ben Carson and Donald Trump

Ben Carson struggles to defend Trump in combative interview