Saturday night, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump won the South Carolina primary and Jeb Bush, the initial frontrunner for the nomination, dropped out of the race. The other news from Saturday night’s primary was that Dr. Carson finished last and immediately announced that he isn’t dropping out despite finishing 111,000+ vote out of third place while finishing sixth in a six-man race.
In his speech announcing that he is suspending his campaign, Gov. Bush said “I am proud of the campaign that we have run to unify our country and to advocate conservative solutions that would give more Americans the opportunity to rise up and reach their god given potential. But the people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
Gov. Bush’s speech was predictably gracious. That’s the Bush family’s tradition. Sen. Rubio’s speech included this praise for Gov. Bush:
I have an incredible affection and admiration, not just for Gov. Bush but his entire family and for their service to our country. Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of. He’s an extraordinary husband. He’s an extraordinary father. He was the greatest governor in the history of Florida. (APPLAUSE) A I believe and I pray that his service to our country has not yet ended. I thank Jeb Bush for everything he did for the state of Florida and for running a campaign based on ideas.
The other big story affecting the GOP nomination fight from Saturday night is still unfolding. Still, it’s clear donors are telling John Kasich and Dr. Carson that they won’t be the GOP nominee because they won’t raise the money to be competitive.
Within minutes of Jeb Bush dropping out of the presidential race Saturday night, some of his donors were preparing to throw their financial support behind Marco Rubio, who has emerged as the strongest candidate among the establishment wing of the party.
“Jeb’s network is already naturally migrating to Marco,” said Gaylord Hughey, a top Bush fundraiser from Texas, echoing what four other top donors told Reuters. “It’s the clear path.”
“It’s a stampede,” added another donor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wanted to give Bush some time after dropping out before he went public with his support of Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida. Three other Bush donors, who declined to be named, also said they now planned to support Rubio.
Gov. Kasich and Dr. Carson have pledged to stay in the race. At this point, that’s virtually irrelevant. The money flowing into the Bush campaign and the super PAC that supported him weren’t spent on great ads. Further, they weren’t spent putting Mr. Trump on the defensive. Now that the money is going to Sen. Rubio, it’s a safe bet that he’ll produce sharper ads that put Mr. Trump on the defensive.
Dr. Carson raised a ton of money late last fall. He spent tons of money but he never caught traction. Now Dr. Carson’s money supply is drying up. It isn’t a stretch to think he’s living (pardon the pun) on life support.