Donald Trump backed by former rival Ben Carson

Ex-presidential candidate boosts billionaire’s chances in Tuesday’s five big-state contests

Billionaire Donald Trump, the anti-establishment figure shaking up the Republican presidential race, received the backing of another outsider, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who ended his own campaign a week ago.

Confirming his support for Mr Trump at a press conference in Florida, Dr Carson said he and the Republican frontrunner had “buried the hatchet” after clashes as candidates. He praised Mr Trump, saying he wanted “the voice of the people to be heard”.

In Dr Carson, the property mogul has found an ally to stress Mr Trump’s status as a challenger to the status quo, which has brought the businessman 15 victories in the first 24 state nominating contests.

“What I’ve been seeing recently is political operators and parties once again trying to assert themselves and trying to thwart the will of the people. I find that to be an extraordinarily dangerous place right now,” Dr Carson said at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Palm Beach.

The endorsement of the candidate whose calm demeanour is at odds with the businessman's blustering, tough-talking persona will give Mr Trump a boost ahead of five big-state nominating contests on Tuesday in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina.

Political correctness

Dr Carson is a favourite of conservatives for railing against political correctness.

The African-American doctor led the polls last autumn until the terror attacks in San Bernardino and Paris exposed his questionable understanding of foreign policy. In December he mispronounced "Hamas" as "hummus", confusing the Palestinian group for the popular chickpea dip.

His best performance came in Alabama, where he won 10 per cent of the Republican vote coming in fourth place.

Florida senator Marco Rubio and Ohio governor John Kasich face make-or-break moments for their presidential bids in their home-state contests on Tuesday. Defeats would spell the end of their campaigns and likely lead to a further boost for Mr Trump in his march to the 1,237 delegates he requires to win the presidential nomination.

Chief rival

He has 458 delegates, leading his chief rival, Texas senator Ted Cruz by almost 100 delegates with Mr Rubio in third place on 151 followed by Mr Kasich with 54. There are 367 delegates at stake on Tuesday, and for the first time the winners will take all the delegates in Florida and Ohio – 99 and 66 delegates respectively.

Mr Trump is averaging a 14- point lead over Mr Rubio in Florida but just two points in Ohio over Mr Kasich. The 44- year-old Florida senator questioned the accuracy of the polls in an interview with CNN yesterday.

“What’s happening increasingly in Florida is that supporters of Ted Cruz and John Kasich are realising that no matter how much they like their candidate, they can’t win Florida and a vote for them is in essence a vote for Trump,” he said.

Mr Rubio performed strongly in Thursday night’s 12th Republican debate, avoiding throwing personal insults at Mr Trump and engaging instead on his strength: policy.

At the debate, the billionaire New Yorker drew fire for defending his controversial remarks from earlier this week that “Islam hates us”.

Asked about the violence shown by his supporters against protesters at his rallies, Mr Trump said people come to his events with “tremendous passion and love for their country” but that they “have an anger that’s unbelievable”.