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Jeb Bush joins Ted Cruz bandwagon after decisive win in Utah

In his endorsement of Cruz, Bush decries Donald Trump’s “divisiveness and vulgarity”

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

texas mugHOUSTON (CFP) — A day after capturing his first outright majority in any state primary, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas captured the endorsement of the man who began the GOP presidential race as the presumed front-runner, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Bush’s endorsement came in a statement released by the Cruz campaign March 23 in which he called the Texas senator “a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.”

“Washington is broken, and the only way Republicans can hope to win back the White House and put our nation on a better path is to support a nominee who can articulate how conservative policies will help people rise up and reach their full potential,” he said.

In endorsing Cruz, Bush also took a swipe at the front-runner in the Republican race, Donald Trump.

“For the sake of our party and country, we must move to 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 and reverse President Obama’s failed policies,” Bush said.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

The nod from Bush came a day after Cruz won 69 percent in the Utah primary–his best showing of the entire primary campaign and the first state in which he took an outright majority of the vote. The result gave Cruz all of the Beehive State’s 40 delegates. Trump trailed badly at just 14 percent.

However, in neighboring Arizona, Trump carried 47 percent to Cruz’s 25 percent, taking all 58 delegates in the winner-take-all state.

To date, Trump has 739 delegates, about 60 percent of the 1,237 he needs to get the nomination. Cruz trails with 465 delegates. There are 17 states left that have not held primaries or caucuses, including one Southern state, West Virginia, which votes in May.

Southern Republicans bunch in third place in New Hampshire primary

Cruz, Bush and Rubio finish within a percentage point of each other, behind Trump and Kasich

♦By Rich Shumate,

on-the-trail-new-hampshireMANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CFP) — The three Southern Republicans in the presidential race all bunched together in a battle for third place in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas came in at 11.6 percent in the February 9 vote, while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was at 11.1 percent and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at 10.5 percent, with just 3,200 votes separating Cruz and Rubio.

Donald Trump won the night with 35.3 percent, while Ohio Governor John Kasich had a surprising second place showing at 15.8 percent.

New Hampshire was redemption for Bush, who was given up for dead after a weak showing in the Iowa caucus. But is was a bad night for Rubio, who could not maintain his momentum from a third-place finish in Iowa after a rough debate performance on the Saturday before the primary.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

“Our disappointment tonight is not on you. It’s on me,” Rubio told supporters in Manchester. “I did not do well on Saturday night. So listen to this–that will never happen again.”

Bush–who entered the race as the favorite, only to see his campaign eclipsed by Trump’s surge–was clearly jubilant after a New Hampshire result that put him back in the race as it heads to South Carolina, a state where his family has deep political roots.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

“They said that the race was now a three-person race between two freshman senators and a reality TV star,” Bush said in a speech to supporters in Manchester, referring to Trump, Cruz and Rubio. “And while the reality TV star is still doing well, it looks like you all have reset the race.”

But Cruz, who won Iowa but wasn’t expected to do well in New Hampshire, claimed a moral victory after “a result that all of us were told was impossible.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

“Once again the talking heads and the Washington insiders were confident that our wave of support would break against the rock of the Granite State,” he told supporters in Hollis. “Tonight, the men and women here and across this great state proved them wrong.”

After Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump leads in the delegate count with 17, followed by Cruz, 10; Rubio, 7; Bush, 3; and Kasich, 3. A candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination.

The next contest for Republicans is the South Carolina primary on February 20.

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