MIAMI – Jeb Bush the voter plans to sit out the presidential race in November.
The ex-presidential candidate wrote on Facebook Friday that he won’t vote for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump – Bush’s chief GOP campaign foe – or likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years,” Bush wrote. “Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”
Reporters had pressed Bush’s spokeswoman for the former Florida governor’s position since Trump became the de facto nominee earlier this week, when his last remaining rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, exited the race.
On Facebook, Bush congratulated Trump and said he will “support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels, just as I have done my entire life” – just not Trump himself.
As for Clinton, Bush said she “has proven to be an untrustworthy liberal politician who, if elected, would present a third term of the disastrous foreign and economic policy agenda of Barack Obama.”
Bush clashed with Trump earlier and more often than any of the other Republicans who ran for president, though it proved to be too late and too little against the celebrity businessman.
“There is no doubt that he successfully tapped into the deep sense of anger and frustration so many Americans around the country rightfully feel today,” Bush wrote Friday.
Trump branded Bush “low energy,” a label that stuck, quickly and stubbornly. Trump reveled in mocking Bush, even after Bush had left the campaign.
Bush was not the only former Republican candidate to vow he’ll abstain from the race come November. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who dropped out of the contest earlier and backed Bush, said Friday he can’t support Trump or Clinton, either, for much the same reasons as Bush.
“I will focus my time, energy and effort on raising resources and advocating for our Republican majorities in the House and Senate,” Graham posted on Twitter.
Trump responded with a pointed statement.
“I fully understand why Lindsey Graham cannot support him,” Trump said. “If I got beaten as badly as I beat him, and all the other candidates he endorsed, I would not be able to give my support either. Every time I see Lindsey Graham spew hate during interviews I ask why the media never questions how I single handily (sic) destroyed his hapless run for President.
”While I will unify the party, Lindsey Graham has shown himself to be beyond rehabilitation,“ Trump continued. ”And like the voters who rejected him, so will I!“
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.