The attacks come as Carson is rising in the polls, closing in on Trump in Iowa and surging nationally. Previously, Trump focused most of his biting, and often personal criticism, on longtime politicians like former Gov. Jeb Bush, painting them as part of the political establishment in attacks that helped cement his image as an outsider running to shake up the status quo. But now, he says, Carson has earned his infamous counter-punches.
“He was a doctor, perhaps an OK doctor,” Trump said of Carson, an internationally-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who was the first person to ever successfully separate cranially conjoined twins in 1987. “He was fine, he was just fine.”
On Wednesday, Carson told reporters that Trump denies his faith, which the real estate mogul says instigated this new feud.
“I never heard faith was a big thing … until he started running, I don’t know about Ben Carson’s faith, all of a sudden he becomes this great religious figure, I don’t think he’s a great religious figure,” Trump said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Carson’s faith over the last five decades is well documented in his many books and he routinely quotes from the Bible on the campaign trail; his stories of how religion helped guide him out of poverty in inner-city Detroit have contributed to one of the most compelling narratives on the campaign trail this cycle.
“You look at his faith and I think you’re not going to find so much … who is he to question my faith when I am, he doesn’t even know me,” Trump said, seconds after doing exactly that to Carson.
He also said Carson’s views on abortion were abhorrent, saying the neurosurgeon was more pro-choice in the past, which is exactly the same position Trump is in: in 1999, he said “I am very pro-choice.”
“He’s starting to hit me, so I hit back,” Trump said of Carson.