Jeb Bush Suspends Presidential Campaign

Leaves race after finishing back in the pack in South Carolina

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush suspended his presidential campaign late Saturday, ending what had been one of the most promising and well-funded campaigns.

The former governor of Florida was considered a frontrunner for his party's nomination soon after he declared he would run, but his campaign was derailed after billionaire Donald Trump entered the race, and he never regained his early momentum.

Following disappointing performances in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Bush pinned his hopes on South Carolina, a state where the Bush name has maintained some clout. But Bush was unable to break into the top three in South Carolina. He would likely have faced pressure from GOP leaders and donors to drop out had he stayed in the race.

The 63-year-old has a presidential pedigree: his father and brother were the 41st and 43rd presidents. But his association with the party establishment, which the Bushes have helped lead, has been blamed for his consistently low polling in a year when outsiders like Trump, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz have found popularity.

Bush went into the South Carolina primary, which George H.W. and George W. Bush each won twice, with the support of just 13 percent of likely primary voters, according to a NBC/WSJ/Marist poll released Friday.

A teary-eyed Bush told supporters he was proud of the campaign he ran to unify the country and advocate conservative solutions.

“I’m blessed to say I’m living in the greatest country the world has ever known,” he said.

Bush was the 43rd governor of Florida, serving two terms, from 1999 to 2007. A University of Texas-Austin graduate, he worked in banking and real estate before entering politics.  

He declared his candidacy for president on June 15, 2015, telling a crowd at Miami Dade College, "I am certain that we can make the decades just ahead in America the greatest time ever to be alive in this world." He was the 11th Republican in the field.

But his campaign was dogged in the summer by Trump's criticism that he is a "low-energy" candidate, and his numbers never climbed. He finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses and fourth in the New Hampshire primary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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