Jeb Bush drops out; Trump wins in S.C.

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After victories in Mississippi and Michigan, 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump continues his likely march to the Republican nomination | News Photo Editor Julio Sosa

When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for president on June 15, pundits immediately anointed him as the front-runner in a crowded Republican field.

Then came 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump.

In a stunning reversal of fortune — just over eight months after Bush's announcement — Trump, the firebrand real estate mogul and former reality television star, has won two consecutive primary elections and Bush has suspended his campaign.

"I'm proud of the campaign that we've run to unify our country," Bush said in a Hilton hotel ballroom in Columbia, S.C. "But the people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken. And I respect their decision. So tonight, I am suspending my campaign."

Nearly 100 miles away in Spartanburg, S.C., a raucous crowd greeted Trump, now the undisputed front-runner for the Republican nomination.

"When you win, it's beautiful. And we're going to start winning for our country again," he said. With over 80 percent of the results in by 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, Trump held 33 percent of the vote in South Carolina, nearly 11 percent more than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who battled with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for second place.

Trump, a frequent and potent critic of Bush and his family, did not mention Jeb's exit in his speech.

Around 9:15 p.m., Rubio gave an enthusiastic speech to supporters in Columbia, S.C., where he mentioned the fall of his onetime mentor, Jeb Bush.

"He was the greatest governor in the history of Florida," Rubio said. "I pray for him and his family tonight as they move forward in other endeavors in their life."

Earlier in the day, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earned a much-needed boost of momentum in Nevada, eking out a victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by four percentage points.

“Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other, and this one's for you,” Clinton said on Saturday afternoon, per a POLITICO report of her speech. “You turned out in every corner of this state with determination and purpose.”

After a 22-point loss to the resilient Vermont senator, Clinton heads into much more favorable terrain in South Carolina and the largely southern voting states on Super Tuesday.

The Democrats competed today in a caucus in Nevada, which holds its Republican caucus on Tuesday. The Democrats next compete in South Carolina on Feb. 27.

President Colin Henderson contributed reporting. 

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