Jeb Bush, who sought to join his father and brother in winning the White House, suspended his campaign for the presidency Saturday night after a long year-long slide in the polls and a disappointing showing in the South Carolina primary.
“I’m proud of the campaign we won to unify our country, and to advocate conservative solutions. . . . But the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken,” Bush said to a hotel ballroom full of staffers, donors and longtime friends, some of whom burst into tears. “Tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
“No!” someone shouted.
“Yeah,” he said before the room burst into applause.
“I congratulate my competitors that are remaining on the island.”
Bush pointedly did not name any of his Republican rivals during his short speech but said, “In this campaign, I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds.”
Bush’s decision followed a devastating loss in the Palmetto State, a state that handed both his father and brother crucial victories but that has shifted toward a much more strident form of Republicanism in the years since. Bush was also under intensifying pressure from party leaders to clear the field so they could coalesce around a challenger to Donald Trump.
The former Florida governor’s decision potentially frees tens of millions of dollars in financial support to other Republican presidential contenders. The most immediate beneficiary is expected to be Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has ties to several of Bush’s top bundlers, many of whom have said that the senator is their second choice.
Bush’s departure also removes the most high-profile contender from the GOP’s “establishment” wing. While Bush has never lived or worked in Washington or held federal office, he was cast as a favorite of the party elite given his family lineage and close ties to many of the party’s most generous backers and senior leaders. (Courtesy The Washington Post)