PALM BEACH, Fla., March 23, 2016 – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced that he is endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz for president, calling the Texas senator a “consistent, principled” conservative. Bush also attacked Donald Trump during his announcement, “For the sake of our party and country, we must overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena, or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee, most likely Hillary Clinton, this fall.”
The announcement by Bush comes nearly a month after the former Florida governor dropped out of the GOP presidential race. Thanks to the exit by Bush and Rubio, Cruz is finally getting a rush of the establishment love that so long eluded him: Mitt Romney said he voted for Cruz in Tuesday’s Utah primary, which the Texan won easily, and recorded get-out-the-vote calls for him in Mormon-heavy Utah and Arizona. The Cruz campaign has also sought support from Rubio of Florida, who dropped out of the race after losing his home state to Trump on March 15.
The continued presence of Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio in the race has remained a problem for Mr. Cruz’s efforts to consolidate the anti-Trump vote. Kasich has won only his home state, but it is a general election battleground, and he has vowed to fight on. With his endorsement of Cruz, Mr. Bush is sending two messages to voters: Reject Trump, and do not keep Kasich’s candidacy alive. “To win, Republicans need to make this election about proposing solutions to the many challenges we face, and I believe that we should vote for Ted as he will do just that,” Bush said.
Kasich’s lone path to the nomination is to extend the nomination race until the party’s national convention in July. The idea is to deny Trump the required 1,237 delegates and force party leaders to consider someone else. Cruz said he’s honored to earn Bush’s support and the endorsement is “further evidence that Republicans are continuing to unite behind our campaign to nominate a proven conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton in November, take back the White House and ensure a freer and more prosperous America for future generations.”