Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor once widely expected to be the next Republican presidential nominee, dropped out of the race last night (Feb. 20) after coming fourth in South Carolina’s Republican primary.
The son of former president George H.W. Bush and brother of former president George W. Bush struggled to hold back tears as he announced the suspension of his campaign to supporters.
“The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken,” he said. “And I really respect their decision.”
Bush spoke of his attempts to appeal to a broad electorate. “I’m proud of the campaign that we’ve run to unify our country,” he told his supporters. “I have put forth a vision for America that includes all because our country deserves a president for everyone.”
But ultimately, despite starting his campaign with the support of a $100 million super PAC, Republican voters could not be persuaded to support yet another Bush candidate over the likes of non-traditional contenders like frontrunner Donald Trump.
Throughout the campaign, Bush presented as an underwhelming debater who stumbled over his words and struggled to defend himself from attacks, particularly from Trump, who famously described the candidate as being “low-energy.” And though his widely-mocked campaign slogan Jeb! was intended to evoke enthusiasm, Bush just couldn’t generate the necessary excitement from the Republican base.
With Bush now out of the race, the GOP establishment is counting on his former supporters to boost another candidate’s chances against Trump, with all eyes on Marco Rubio. But Trump mocked this idea on Saturday. “A number of the pundits said, ‘Well, if a couple of the other candidates drop out, if you add their scores together, it’s going to equal Trump!,’ he said in his victory speech.
And after winning two of the three primaries so far, and with 32.5% of the vote in South Carolina, Trump’s path to nomination currently seems unstoppable.