Jeb Bush bows out of US presidential race

FILES-US-JEB-BUSH-HOLDS-TOWN-HALL-IN-BEAUFORT,-SOUTH-CAROLINA-el (File) Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaking to an audience of voters in Beaufort, South Carolina | AFP

Jeb Bush on Sunday dropped out of the Republican presidential race after a series of dismal performances in primaries and a sluggish campaign, as the Bush family's dream of an unprecedented third stint at the White House was shattered.

An introvert but articulate Jeb, with no dearth of money and support base of establishment across the nation, was hoping to follow the footsteps of his father George. H. W. Bush and his elder brother George W. Bush.

George. H. W. Bush, now 91, was the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. His son George W. Bush was elected as the two-term 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009.

63-year-old John Ellis "Jeb" Bush was hoping to become the 45th president of the US when he announced his candidature last year.

After three consecutive abysmal performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and finally in South Carolina, the third presidential aspirant from the Bush family announced to suspend his campaign.

"The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken. I respect their decision. So, tonight, I am suspending my campaign," a visibly disappointed Jeb said as he took the podium in Columbia, South Carolina, after it became clear that he has received less than eight per cent of the votes.

"I congratulate my competitors, that are remaining on the island, on their success in a race that has been hard-fought, just as the contest for the presidency should be because it is a tough job," Jeb said.

In Iowa caucus on February 1, which kicked off the 2016 presidential cycle, Jeb was placed sixth with an abysmally low 2.8 per cent votes.

But Jeb, who had been polling low at the national level, saw a glimmer of hope in the New Hampshire primary where he came fourth and his votes crossed the double digit mark with 11 per cent.

The New Hampshire primary was won by controversial Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump who received the support of 35.3 per cent of the votes followed by John Kasich (15.8) and Ted Cruz (11.7 per cent).

Hoping that South Carolina would give him the much needed momentum, Jeb even roped his elder brother and former president George, who made his first public political campaign rally after leaving White House on January 20, 2009.

While the election rally by 69-year-old George was well attended and generated a lot of excitement, it was not enough to give the much need push to his campaign.

In his speech, Jeb said he remains optimistic that with the right kind of leadership, that they all need to work to make sure happens, America's best days are ahead.

"With strong conservative leadership, Republicans can win the White House, and we can get back to being in the verge of having the greatest time to be alive and that's what I honestly believe and I know you do as well. I look forward to working you to make that dream come true," he said.

Jeb said the presidency is bigger than any one person and it is certainly bigger than any candidate. "We're different in our country because our head of state is not above us, but because the head of state, the people who aspire to the presidency are of the people," he said.

"I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is the servant, not the master. Someone who will commit to that service with honour and decency," Bush said.

"Our next president will lead an extraordinary country, whose people have always made the improbable, possible...in ways big and small," said Jeb, whose campaign had so far had spent a whopping USD 150 million.

Except for Trump, Bush received praise from two of his presidential rivals -- Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

"I have an incredible affection and admiration not just for Governor Bush but for his family and for their service to our country. Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of. He is an extraordinary husband. He's an extraordinary father. He was the greatest governor in the history of Florida," said Rubio, who was in a virtual tie with Cruz in South Carolina.

Cruz praised Bush as "a man who didn't go to the gutter" and engage in insults and attacks.

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