Responding to reports that Republican party leaders had begun discussing the possibility of a contested convention in 2016, Ben Carson condemned the GOP heads early Friday for trying to "manipulate" the primary outcome.
"If the leaders of the Republican Party want to destroy the party, they should continue to hold meetings like the one described in the Washington Post this morning," Carson said in a statement, which described the monthly dinner as a "party boss insider meeting."
While the assembly of the GOP's top brass did not focus on a contested convention, according to the Washington Post, talk did turn to what would happen if no candidate received enough delegates to win the nomination. Carson seemed to fear that such discussions would lead to backdoor deal-making in choosing a Republican nominee.
"This process is the one played out by our party," Carson added. "If the powerful try to manipulate it, the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next summer may be the last convention."
For the RNC's part, communications director Sean Spicer said on CNN Friday that Carson shouldn't worry about the party brokering the nomination.
"Your prayers have been answered," Spicer said. "There was a dinner where the subject was how the delegation process worked...it's nothing more than that."
The retired neurosurgeon also threatened to abandon the GOP completely: "If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party."
Trump, though he has already pledged that he would not run as a third-party candidate in 2016, has recently hinted at other alternatives to the GOP, ever since Republicans condemned his recent calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
After a Burlington, Iowa campaign event on Friday, Carson expanded on his earlier statement, saying, "I have no intention of running as an independent, but I certainly don't want to be a part of corruption." When pressed further on if he would drop out of the race entirely, Carson told reporters: "I'll leave that to you to speculate."
On Fox News Friday, Carson gave a different response: "I might go back to being an Independent. I wouldn't run as a third party. I would never do that because regardless of what they do, it would be better than having Hillary."