Reported Directly from The Bush Campaign. Bush will suspend his candidacy.
With Donald Trump leading by double-digits at this hour, Jeb Bush is a distant fourth and Ben Carson is dead last as votes are being counted in South Carolina’s Republican primary.
That’s particularly bad news for Bush, whose campaign has been the subject of recent dropout speculation fed by anonymous sources close to the campaign. But it’s also a sign that Carson’s once-great hopes have deflated too much to recover.
On Thursday, conservative writer Erick Erickson reported that the Bush campaign is almost out of money, having essentially lit hundreds of millions of dollars on fire. According to Erickson’s unnamed source, staff are only being paid through today, suggesting that he may concede the race tomorrow.
In what seemed like a last-ditch effort, Bush even brought his brother, former president George W. Bush, to stump for him in South Carolina.
Adding to his woes, there are reports that Bush is under increasing pressure from party leaders to step aside.
As reported in Politico on Feb. 20, Republican party senior officials have made their voice known that the candidates continuing to poll low across the board will have to end their campaigns, sooner rather than later. “South Carolina will reshape the race,” Chamber of Commerce chief political strategist Scott Reed told Politico. Reed continued, noting that “only the top three finishers” will be able to make a serious push going forward.
Indeed, Politico has reported a series of negative stories about the Bush campaign in recent weeks. Without naming them, the website has quoted his top funders as “resigned to it being over” and looking for a Bush “family hall pass” to stop supporting the doomed effort.
Carson is also running out of cash, according to The Hill.com:
Carson finished January with just over $4 million cash on hand. But if his campaign continues spending at its current rate and doesn’t substantially increase its fundraising, it will be running on little more than fumes by the end of this month.
During the month of January, Carson’s campaign spent $6.2 million and raised $3.8 million.
Although Carson has raised more than $57 million ‘hard dollars’ — overall, more direct-to-campaign money than all the other candidates — his team has spent that cash freely on consultants and old-fashioned direct mail campaigns. These priorities have led some observers, such as Jonathan Chait, to wonder if Carson’s bid for the presidency was ever anything more than a marketing gimmick or a personal enrichment scheme for is entourage.
To make matters worse, Carson proved too soft-spoken when major international events occurred, such as the Paris terror attacks, and his own advisers only magnified the image of a candidate who was clueless on foreign policy issues.
In an attempt to keep up appearances, Carson strategist Jason Osborne told Time magazine this week that his candidate is engaged in a “delegate-gathering strategy” which does not require him to actually win states.
Calls for both candidates to drop out of the race are sure to increase after tonight’s results come in.