IRVING — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson doesn’t want anybody — especially Texans — to count him out.

He revealed Saturday morning after rallying hundreds of supporters at the Westin Dallas Fort Worth hotel he’s even gotten calls from people offering him money and more if he drops out and endorses another candidate.

“I’ve got unanswered calls on my phone right now, ‘Oh, if you did this or did this, and did this, or if you drop out and support this guy, we’ll give you all this money and we’ll make sure you’re a senator here,'” Carson said. “What a bunch of crap. This is about saving our nation. This is not about horse-trading and making deals.”

Carson refused to say who called him, but did say that they can “go jump in a lake.”

Even though he said people are trying to write his “political obituary” all the time, he believes Texans will show their support when it counts: on Election Day.

“There are a lot of people in Texas with common sense,” he said . “I think we will do better than expected.”

The 64-year-old retired neurosurgeon became the latest presidential candidate to ask Texans for their support just days before voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday.

Polls show him lagging far behind the front of the pack — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — in Texas, as he is nationwide.

But he said he’s in this race because he believes he’s the right person to lead the country.

This “is about a nation that I love, because it’s been so good to me,” he told the crowd. “And we have to make sure it’s good for our children.”

Once ranked near the top of the polls, Carson gradually slipped and has been lagging in the polls and struggling to gain footing in his effort to claim the Republican nomination.

Texas is the crown jewel in the Super Tuesday election, offering 155 Republican delegates alone.

A new WFAA Texas TEGNA poll showed that Trump and Cruz are tied 32-32 for Texas voters. Rubio trails with 17 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in fourth with 6 percent and Carson holds about 5 percent, according to the poll conducted for Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV.

Despite trailing, Carson — who had one of the standout lines from the GOP presidential debate in Houston when he jokingly asked “Can somebody attack me, please” in an attempt to draw more speaking time — said he’s not answering calls from special interest groups or millionaires who want to contribute to his effort.

He won’t talk about who might get his endorsement if he’s out of the race. He did say he believes all the Republicans still seeking the nomination would do a good job if chosen by voters.

Right now, he said he’s trying to wake people up “so they actually understand what’s going on.”

He said he will support the GOP presidential nominee.

And he hopes it’s him.

‘Skin in the game’

More than 300 people crowded into a hotel meeting room to see Carson at the NE Tarrant Tea Party’s town hall.

A group about the same size waited outside and couldn’t get into the room, so Carson spoke to them briefly before the town hall.

During his nearly hour-long talk, Carson — who said he wanted to “create ladders of opportunity so people can come out of the depths of dependency” — laid out priorities he would focus on if elected.

That included cutting the size and spending of the federal government, throwing “common core out the door,” reducing the federal debt and beefing up the size of the military, which he said could happen in about a year.

Carson said the country’s borders must be secured and leaders must be prepared to do whatever needs to be done.

And he talked about radical Islamic terrorists who want to destroy the United States, noting that “we must destroy them first.”

We can’t worry about political correctness and people calling us Islamaphobics. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson

“The sooner we do that, the better off we will be,” he said. “We can’t worry about political correctness and people calling us Islamaphobics.”

He proposes a flat tax that would impact everyone because “everybody has to have skin in the game.” And as for concerns about the president taking guns from people, Carson said there’s an alternative.

“What the government should be doing is offering free gun safety classes for all Americans,” he said.

‘I saw Jesus’

Texas is the crown jewel in the Super Tuesday election, offering 155 Republican delegates alone.

Carson was last in Tarrant County in October, saying Texas — as well as other states across the country — is important to his campaign.

Linda Hayford was among the hundreds who showed up Saturday morning to see Carson.

Hayford, a 53-year-old North Richland Hills woman, said she couldn’t miss an opportunity to see the presidential candidate again after meeting him at a Fort Worth book signing last year.

“When I shook his hand, I saw Jesus in his eyes,” she said. “He’s a man of common sense, he has common sense solutions to our problems and he does not put others down to lift himself up as others do.

“He’s the most honest man I’ve met and he is so humble.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, March 1.

To learn more about candidates on the March 1 ballot, check out the online Star-Telegram Voter Guide.

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(c)2016 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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