Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, once a rising star in the Republican primary race, endorsed current front-runner Donald Trump during a press conference early Friday morning.
"Why would you get behind a man like Donald Trump? I'll tell you why," Carson told reporters gathered in Palm Beach, Florida. "I've come to know Donald Trump over the last few years. He is actually a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America."
"There are two different Donald Trumps," he added. "There's one you see on the stage and there's the one who's very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him. And that's the Donald Trump you're going to start seeing more and more of right now."
"There's a lot more alignment" on positions between himself and the businessman, Carson said, both "philosophically and spiritually."
Carson dismissed some of the attacks Trump had leveled at him while the retired doctor was still a top contender in the GOP primary.
"We buried the hatchet," Carson said, noting that it was just "political stuff."
Prior to Carson's exit from the race, Trump had called the former neurosurgeon "weak on immigration" and "super low energy." Once, when questions emerged last October over the veracity of Carson's biography and his violent past, Trump likened his rival to a child molester with a "pathological" disease.
But when introducing Carson at the press conference Friday, Trump had only kind words for his former opponent.
"Everybody wanted his endorsement... everybody loves him and truly, truly admires what he's done," Trump said, calling Carson a "special, special person."
Later, when Trump was asked by CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett whether the billionaire would "agree" with Carson's statement about multiple Trump personas, he responded: "I probably do agree -- I think there are two Donald Trumps. There's the public version, and people see that --I don't know what they see exactly but it seems to have worked over in my lifetime. But it's probably different than the personal Donald Trump."
He added: "I'm somebody that is a thinker, I'm a big thinker, and I have my ideas and they're strong, and you know, typically they've worked out."
But when pressed minutes later about the same issue, Trump seemed to walk back that characterization: "I don't think there are two Donald Trumps."
Asked if he would consider a position for Carson in a Trump administration, the businessman said that Carson had yet to ask for one.
"He just wants to help," Trump said, though he also reiterated a promise he had made during Thursday's Republican debate in Miami that Carson is "gonna have a big part" in his campaign, particularly working on education policy.
Trump also addressed the recent violence at his campaign rallies, placing the blame on protestors.
"We've had a couple that were really violent, and the particular one where I said I'd like to bang him, that was a very vicious, you know it was a guy who was swinging--very loud, and he started swinging at the audience," Trump said. "And you know what? The audience swung back, and I thought it was very very appropriate. He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. And that's what we need a little bit more of."
Carson suspended his campaign last week, making a formal announcement at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday and admitting that "There's a lot of people who love me, they just won't vote for me."
Carson gave a preview of his speech early Friday in a tweet, saying Trump possessed the "vision, guts & energy" to be president: