Election 2020

Jeb Bush Endorses Ted Cruz on Facebook

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz in February 2016 debate. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz via Facebook on Wednesday, as a group of Republicans once very hostile to the Texas senator coalesce behind him in a last-ditch effort to stop frontrunner Donald Trump.

“Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests, including yesterday’s Utah caucus,” Bush said on Facebook.

I wanted you all to be the first to know that today I am endorsing Ted Cruz for President. Ted is a consistent,…

Posted by Jeb Bush on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bush continued:

Washington is broken, too many families are stuck in poverty and Western civilization is under attack from radical Islamic terrorists, as evidenced by the horrific attack in Brussels, which was preceded by attacks in Paris and California.

For the sake of our party and country, we must overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee, most likely Hillary Clinton, this fall.

The endorsement will likely irk Marco Rubio, the candidate whom Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise, spent heavily against early on in the primaries. A Republican source told Politico, “Jeb came to believe Marco was not up to the job of being president. It was never really under serious consideration.”

This may seem ironic, as Ted Cruz has served two years less than Rubio in the Senate, and Rubio was previously speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Cruz has his own accomplishments, however, as solicitor general of Texas, arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Cruz also served as an adviser to Bush’s brother during his presidential run.

Bush and Cruz finalized the endorsement with a phone call on Monday. A source close to the former Florida governor said, “They have kept in touch over the last few weeks and Senator Cruz has been diligent about keeping Governor Bush up to date on his campaign.” Bush met with Cruz, along with Rubio and John Kasich, in Miami before the last Republican debate.

A source close to Bush insisted that “this is NOT an anti-John Kasich endorsement. Bush has enormous respect for John Kasich and he enjoyed spending time with Governor Kasich over the past year,” but Kasich has only won his home state. “At this point, the best path to victory is supporting the candidate who has been able to win states and win over voters.”

Cruz himself praised Bush in the statement, saying, “I’m truly honored to earn Governor Jeb Bush’s support. … Governor Bush was an extraordinary governor of Florida, and his record of job creation and innovation left a lasting legacy for millions of Floridians.” Cruz also argued that “his endorsement today is further evidence that Republicans are continuing to unite behind our campaign to nominate a proven conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton in November, take back the White House, and ensure a freer and more prosperous America for future generations.”

Next Page: What Will This Endorsement Accomplish?

Bush follows in a long line of recent “establishment” endorsements, including Nevada Sen. John McCain’s daughter, Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney, and Jeb’s brother Neil Bush. Graham and Carly Fiorina mark the other former 2016 candidates endorsing Cruz. Jeb Bush suspended his campaign a little over one month ago.

Bush’s move may come too late. His home state of Florida has already voted — and backed Trump by a large margin. Nevertheless, his endorsement may carry weight in the upcoming blue state primaries, where moderate Republicans must choose between a conservative firebrand and a raucous reality show host. Will these endorsements convince them to pull the lever for a senator they might have found noxious in the past?

Despite Cruz’s big win in the Utah caucus last night (with almost 70 percent of the vote), he still trails Trump in the delegate race, with 465 delegates to Trump’s 739. Cruz would need to win nearly every single state from here on out, by very large margins, in order to win the nomination outright. He can, however, prevent Trump from winning outright, pushing the contest to a second ballot on the convention floor in Cleveland in July.