Brother of former President Bush, Jeb Bush, suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday, following a bruising loss in the South Carolina primary, which Donald Trump won.
Bush made the announcement in a somber speech before supporters in Columbia after earning just 8.3% of the vote with 67% reporting in the third primary contest of 2016.
“The presidency is bigger than any one candidate,” Bush said. “The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken.”
Flanked by his wife, Columba, and Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina and a key surrogate for his campaign, Bush also paid tribute to his family legacy – taking turns to salute his father, former president George HW Bush, his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, and his brother, former president George W Bush. Bush, who struggled from the outset to get his campaign off the ground despite amassing a war chest of $100m, was visibly emotional and occasionally choked up as he spoke.
“America truly loves them and respects them,” Bush said.
Bush’s decision to exit the race arrived as pressure mounted on the former Florida governor to bow out gracefully and pave the way for a viable alternative to stop Donald Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz.
However, a fourth-place finish in New Hampshire just ahead of arch-rival Marco Rubio, Bush’s former Florida ally, gave him a renewed sense of hope that South Carolina might just reverse his fortunes. The state had been historically favorable toward the Bush family, prompting the return of George W Bush on the campaign trail last week as part of a last-ditch effort to salvage his brother’s campaign.
Unfortunately, all the support from his family proved inadequate.
Addressing his supporters, Bush thanked his campaign “who never, ever, ever gave up” through one of the more grueling slogs in recent memory. He also pointed to a silver lining: his wife Columba, who stood by his side fighting back tears.
“Tonight I’m going to sleep with the best friend I have and the love of my life,” Bush said.
“Thank you for the opportunity to run for the greatest office on the face of the earth,” he added, in closing. “I love you, God bless you.”