After months of lagging poll numbers and failing to place in the top tier in the South Carolina primary that Donald Trump is projected to win, Jeb Bush said a tearful goodbye to the presidential race Saturday night.
"The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision. So tonight, I am suspending my campaign," said a visibly tearful Bush from his campaign's headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina. "I congratulate my competitors who remain on the island and have fought hard in this race," he added.
Bush ended his campaign after a disappointing finish in South Carolina. Despite months of campaigning, the aid of a well-funded super PAC and an appearance by his brother in South Carolina this week, he is currently slated to come in fifth place with just 8 percent of the vote, as the state continues tallying votes. Although Bush was initially considered the frontrunner in 2016, his campaign has struggled to find traction throughout this election season. He failed to crack the top three in any state that has voted so far, despite high name recognition and having two former presidents as a father and older brother. Bush placed fourth place in New Hampshire and sixth in Iowa before that. "I'm proud of the campaign we've run to unify our country and advocate conservative solutions to lift our country up," Bush said. Supporters of Sen. Marco Rubio, who is currently tied for second as votes continue to roll in, cheered loudly at his victory party in Columbia, as Bush announced the end of his campaign. Bush's announcement opens up the field for second place, where Rubio is competing with Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to serve as the party's main alternative to Trump.
Bush choked up as he spoke to supporters flanked by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and his family. His wife Columba teared up on stage as he spoke.
"Tonight I am going to sleep next to my best friend and the love of my life," Bush said.
"With strong conservative leadership, Republicans can win back the White House. ... Thank you for the opportunity to run for the greatest office in the world," Bush said.