COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Jeb Bush replaced the exclamation mark of his campaign logo with a period Saturday night as he officially suspended his presidential campaign following a disappointing finish in South Carolina.
“I’m proud of the campaign we have run,” Bush said a few minutes into his speech. “But the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
The campaign suffered a major blow earlier in the week as South Carolina’s popular governor endorsed rival Marco Rubio over the former Florida governor — a move Bush called “disappointing” — resulting in what seemed the final downward trajectory of his run.
“When I began this journey in Miami I committed that I would campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching and staying true to what I believe,” he said in summing up his campaign.
The former governor headed back to his home in Miami, Florida, on Saturday night, the campaign confirmed.
Bush’s early momentum in the race stalled late in the summer in the face of a rising Donald Trump, who successfully branded Bush as “low-energy” — a moniker the former governor struggled to overcome.
“I fully believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who believes whoever holds it is a servant, not the master,” Bush said, seeming to allude to frontrunner Trump.
Saturday’s disappointing finish in South Carolina follows similar performances in the other early states where Bush finished sixth in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire where he had devoted heavy campaign resources.
“In this campaign I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds,” he said.
Bush’s final Palmetto State push included a much anticipated campaign appearance by his brother, former President George W. Bush, but ultimately the elder Bush’s popularity didn’t transfer.
Aside from thanking supporters during his speech, Bush — a self-described “policy wonk” — touted the importance of ideas and policy, something his campaign routinely laid out during the campaign.
“With strong conservative leadership, Republicans can win the White House,” Bush said. “That’s what I honestly believe and I know you do as well."