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Former GOP Candidate Ben Carson Reviews 2016 Election Season

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now we're going to hear from a prominent Republican, a supporter of and often surrogate for Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, who sought the Republican nomination. Dr. Carson, welcome to the program.

BEN CARSON: Thank you. Good to be with you again.

SIEGEL: On Monday, you said at a rally in Jacksonville, Fla., don't expect smooth sailing tomorrow. What did you mean by that?

CARSON: I meant that, you know, there's so much at stake for both sides. And, you know, people might be hostile. There may be irregularities at the polling place. All kinds of things are possibilities.

SIEGEL: So far, from what you know of what's happened - has there been smooth sailing so far in this Election Day?

CARSON: Well, I've only heard of two states where there were voting irregularities, so I consider that pretty smooth.

SIEGEL: We just heard Senator Booker talk about the need for healing. I'm not asking you this as an M.D. Speaking of the country and the great divisions in our country, do you think whoever wins or loses the presidency tonight has an obligation to try to heal and get together? Or should the kind of robust and often tough argument that we've heard for the past year continue?

CARSON: There's a reason we're called the United States of America, and I think whoever wins and whoever loses needs to recognize that. You know, we've had so much divisiveness on the basis of gender, race, income, age, religion, all of which is very deleterious to our strength and our unity. And I think it needs to be a big point of emphasis.

SIEGEL: No matter who is the winner, whether that's...

CARSON: Absolutely.

SIEGEL: Can you say that the Republican Party, whatever its differences were earlier in the year, has gathered 'round and supported Donald Trump as best they could? Or do you fault some of the party for not being there for him in this campaign?

CARSON: Well, you know, I've never felt it was really so much about the Republicans versus the Democrats. I've felt that it was about the political elites versus the people. And so, you know, certain elements of Republican Party belong to the political elites, and they're much more comfortable with their own group than they would be representing the interests of the people.

SIEGEL: Would you expect Donald Trump, if he were to lose tonight, to remain a senior figure, representing, as you would say, the people within the Republican Party?

CARSON: I think his voice has been established as a major voice. And I don't think that he's going to back away because I think he really is interested in doing something for this country.

SIEGEL: Do you have any doubt that after the votes are counted and people have made their decisions about who's to be president - do you have any doubt about - that Donald Trump would accept the result, whether it meant he won or he lost?

CARSON: Well, you know, I'm hopeful that whoever wins, whichever one of them wins, it's by a substantial margin and we won't have to get into those kinds of issues. I do believe that if that is the case, the loser will graciously accept.

SIEGEL: But if it's close?

CARSON: If it's close and there are irregularities, then I would expect a 2000-type situation. And none of us wants to go through that.

SIEGEL: I think you'd get a unanimous verdict on that point. Dr. Carson, thanks so much for talking with us today.

CARSON: A pleasure.

SIEGEL: Dr. Ben Carson, who, of course, sought the Republican presidential nomination and later came around to support Donald Trump, speaking with us from New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.