Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson formally endorsed GOP presidential front runner on Friday, saying that he and Trump had "buried the hatchet" over remarks Trump made about Carson earlier in the campaign.
Carson's endorsement, which Trump announced in Thursday night's presidential debate, left many political observers stunned and angry.
Syndicated talk show host Steve Deace, who backs Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the nomination, wrote on Twitter that he had "to give Trump credit for this - he is exposing shameful nakedness of every fake conservative/Christian leader in broad daylight."
National Review's Jonah Goldberg echoed the sentiment, tweeting: "Dr. Carson could have helped his party & country by running for the senate from Md. Instead: endorsing dude who compared him to pedophile."
The "pedophile" reference stems from an Trump speech last November in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Trump called Carson "an enigma," and much more.
Citing a book Carson has written about his early life, Trump said that, "in the book, [Carson] said terrible things about himself. He said that he's pathological, and that he's basically got pathological disease.
"I don't want a person whose got pathological disease," Trump said, adding "there's no cure for that."
Trump expanded on the point, making the example (at great length) that "if you're a child molester, a sick puppy, there's no cure for that."
"There's only one cure but we don't want to talk about that cure," he said. "That's the ultimate cure. No there's two cures. There's death, and the other thing."
"So [Carson] is a pathological, damaged, temper, a problem," Trump continued. "Then they talk about me, that my tone is a little tough."
In response, Carson had said: "Pray for him."
Trump later used Carson as a debating point with Cruz after controversy arose at the end of the Iowa Caucuses in which Cruz campaign operatives sent a message to its Iowa ground staff saying Carson was suspending his campaign. The report was incorrect, and Cruz later apologized to Carson.
In a campaign appearance in New Hampshire, Trump called Cruz's tactics "dirty," and that "what he did to Ben Carson was a disgrace."
In his CPAC speech last Friday, Carson named five criteria he would use to determine in making a presidential endorsement.
"Let me tell you exactly the criteria one should use," he said.
"You need someone who has demonstrated significant accomplishment in their life.
"You also need somebody whose ideas and policies are clear," and "you need to look at how they treat others, and how they treat their family, because that's how they are going to treat the American people.
"We need to see what have they done for America. Someone who wants to lead this nation should, in fact, have demonstrated in their life, that they are trying to improve life for the people in America," Carson said.
Lastly, Carson said he would be looking "at the people they work with. Who are those people, what do those people have to say, and how have they been able to collaborate with other people to get things done.
"Someone who can check all those boxes," Carson said, "would be a great leader."
In his remarks on Friday, Carson stressed that he was most concerned with efforts such as the ad hoc "Never Trump" movement to boost one candidate over another. "What we’ve been seeing lately is political operatives, and parties, once again trying to assert themselves and trying to thwart the will of the people," he warned. "I find that that is an extraordinarily dangerous place to be right now."
Regarding the rough treatment he received at Trump's hands during the campaign, Carson said there are really two Donald Trumps.
"There is the one you see on the stage," he said, "and there’s the one who is very cerebral, who considers things very carefully."
Carson said he and Trump have "buried the hatchet," and "that's political stuff. That happens in American politics."
He went further, saying that he was surprised how close he and Trump were "philosophically and spiritually."
Trump said Carson has become a friend, and that the two have made no deals or other political agreements in exchange for the endorsement.
Carson “just wants to help” and “feels strongly about what’s happening,” he said.
"Ben’s going to have a big part" in the Trump campaign, the front runner said. "We want to keep that kind of talent."