Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended his campaign Saturday night after another deeply disappointing day at the polls.
“Tonight I am suspending my campaign,” he announced to his supporters in South Carolina Saturday after only managing to pull in around 8 percent of the vote.
“The people of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have spoken,” he said. “I respect their decision.”
Bush ran an establishment campaign in the midst of an anti-establishment wave. As he said in his remarks Saturday, he “refused to bend to the political winds,” but he underestimated the nature and strength of those “winds.” The mood of the country simply would not accept another status quo candidate.
It was a troubled run from the start, the former governor entering with great reluctance and never managing to drum up any national momentum. He promised civility and compassion in his campaign, but he quickly turned into the poster child for the establishment — and took a beating from the “outsiders” as a result.
Bush hovered around 5 percent in the national averages for most of the campaign and finished well behind the frontrunners in the first three caucuses. Two of the Republican leaders, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, represent the anti-establishment, while Marco Rubio, who battled it out for second with Cruz in South Carolina, was Bush’s protégé — a particularly difficult pill to swallow for the former governor.
In the last weeks of his waning campaign, Bush turned to his famous family members for help, but the presence of his mother Barbara and George W. Bush on the campaign trail clearly did not move the needle for a Republican electorate wary of Washington insiders and the political status quo.
“America is a country that thinks big, acts boldly and leads without apology,” Bush said Saturday. With, as he described it, the “nation’s bright light” having dimmed to “little more than a flicker,” he said he hoped the next president would be able to lead boldly with the kind of big ideas the nation needs.
So the obvious question now is which of the Republican frontrunners will benefit most by Bush bowing out? But with Trump’s lead and momentum, will it matter?
One positive note: Following Bush’s announcement Saturday, Bloomberg provided a handy chart that proves that money alone can’t buy a presidential nomination: