Declaring that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ended his campaign for the White House with about 50 percent of precincts reporting in tonight’s primary.
Bush was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who threw his support behind Bush after ending his own presidential campaign just before Christmas.
Bush’s wife, Columba, had tears in her eyes as her husband stepped to the microphone.
Jeb said his campaign was about “keeping my word” while “facing the issues without flinching.”
“I have put forth a vision for America that includes all because our country deserves a president for everyone,” he said, stressing that “our head of state is not above us” but is “part of the people.”
The president, Bush said, should be a person who is “imperfect under God’s watchful eye.”
Whoever holds the office, he added, is “a servant, not the master.”
Bush said he was “proud of the campaign that we’ve run to unify our country.”
“The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, so tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
The crowd of Jeb supporters interjected with shouts of “no, no,” to which Bush replied, “yeah, yeah.”
Jeb’s eyes began to tear up at this point.
“I congratulate my competitors that are remaining on the island on their success in a race that has been hard fought,” he said, noting “I stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political wind.”
Bush said he was grateful to Graham “for steadfast support” and added “he’s become a friend for life.”
“I’ve had an incredible life” in public service, he said, but “tonight I’m going to sleep with the best friend that I have and the love of my life.” He embraced Columba.
“Thank you for the opportunity to run for the greatest office on the face of the earth.”
Bush was hovering around 8 percent of the vote with two-thirds of returns in.
2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Jeb “followed his family’s pattern of putting country above himself.”
“His campaign has been about answers to real problems and about policies to strengthen our country,” Romney wrote on his Facebook page. “It has been a campaign conducted in the finest tradition of dignity and integrity and Jeb Bush gave it his all: he can have no regrets. I am proud to call him a friend.”