Bush to donors: Campaign derailed by year of 'disruption,' 'outsiders'

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Looking Back at the Highs and Lows of Jeb Bush's 2016 Campaign



Jeb Bush told donors Wednesday afternoon that he had seen a path to victory "from the very beginning" of his campaign but was unexpectedly stymied by "outsiders making a compelling case to people who are deeply disaffected and angry."

"I'm sorry that it didn't turn out the way that I intended. When I launched the campaign in front of 3-4,000 people in Miami, I anticipated a different result," an audibly disappointed Bush told donors on a national finance team call scheduled to thank them for their support.

He also said he plans to "do whatever I can now as a private citizen" to help nominate a conservative that can win the White House.

Bush, who ended his campaign after finishing fourth in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, said the reality of the race was that "we've had a year of disruption, a year of outsiders making a compelling case to people who are deeply disaffected and angry."

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Bush to donors: Campaign derailed by year of 'disruption,' 'outsiders'
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at his South Carolina Republican presidential primary rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during speak a campaign stop Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, at University of South Carolina campus at Sumter, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush throws a snowball following a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush gestures for people to take their seats as he arrives for a campaign event in Salem, N.H., Sunday Feb. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 15: Former Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) announces his endorsement of Jeb Bush for president on January 15, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Graham dropped his bid for the presidency last month. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Jeb Bush laugh during a commercial break during the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
GRINNELL, IA - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush greets people during a town hall at the Brownell's Firearms Manufacturing company on January 12, 2016 in Grinnell, Iowa. Bush continues his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HIALEAH, FL - DECEMBER 28: Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush holds a meet and greet at Chico's Restaurant on December 28, 2015 in Hialeah, Florida. Mr. Bush continues to campaign for his parties' nomination as the presidential candidate. Credit: MPI10 / MediaPunch/IPX
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches event, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a campaign stop at the Devine Millimet Law Firm Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush looks on during the singing of the National Anthem before speaking at the Clinton County Republicans Annual Fall Event, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Goose Lake, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush greets audience members after speaking at the Scott County Republican Party's Ronald Reagan Dinner, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
WAUKESHA, WI - NOVEMBER 09: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) sits with Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (L) at La Casa de Esperanza during a campaign stop on November 9, 2015 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Tomorrow Bush will participate in the third Republican presidential debate sponsored by Fox Business News and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theater in nearby Milwaukee. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 2: Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush allows a supporter to loosen his necktie during a rally on his 'Jeb Can Fix It' Tour on November 2, 2015 at the Tampa Garden Club in Tampa, Florida. Following dropping poll numbers and poor debate performance Bush is trying to reset his campaign that many say has been flailing. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stretches before speaking during a campaign stop Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Bedford, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, wears custom made boots during a campaign stop with area law enforcement officers, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, in Goffstown, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush poses for a photograph with Katie Wong during a tailgate party before an NCAA college football game between Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting at The Music Man Square, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gestures and pounds his fist into his hand while speaking at a town hall meeting in Salem, N.H., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush shows off a Reagan/Bush '84 T-shirt as he speaks during the opening of his Miami campaign office Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, poses for a selfie with a student during a town hall at La Progresiva Presbyterian School, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, talks with students in a third grade class as teacher Judy Elder, left, looks on before a town hall at La Progresiva Presbyterian School, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 14: Republican presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad eat a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on August 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, throws a baseball on the midway during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 14: Republican presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (C) talks with members of the media as U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (L) (R-IA) and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R) (R-IA) look on during the Iowa State Fair on August 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, holds up two lobsters during a campaign stop at Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook, N.H., Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. At right is owner Bruce Brown. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush addresses guests during a town hall style gathering in Gorham, N.H., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks at the Florida State University Conference Center in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits backstage as he is introduced before speaking at the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Maverick PAC conference Friday, July 17, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 15: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves on stage as he announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during an event at Miami-Dade College - Kendall Campus on June 15 , 2015 in Miami, Florida. Bush joins a list of Republican candidates to announce their plans on running against the Democrats for the White House. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush talks to members of the media after speaking to voters at the Derry Opera House, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in Derry, N.H. Bush is campaigning in the nation's earliest presidential primary state. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, has a selfie taken with a supporter while participating in the Fourth of July Parade festivities in Amherst, N.H.,,Saturday, July 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signs autographs from the window of a food truck after he formally announced that he would join the race for president with a speech at Miami Dade College, Monday, June 15, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a Clark County Republican Party dinner Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A supporter takes a cell phone photo of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush after a town hall meeting with Puerto Rico's Republican Party in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. Immigration is a delicate subject for the 2016 GOP presidential prospect in the primacy race, with several potential rivals favoring a harder line on those who come to the U.S. illegally. But he took it up unapologetically in his remarks. "We're an immigrant nation and we should be proud," he said. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - MARCH 18: Former Florida Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush kisses a supporter during an early morning GOP breakfast event on March 18, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Bush announced in December that he 'actively explore' a presidential run in 2016. He is currently on a two day tour through South Carolina and will attend several fundraising events. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waves while being introduced before speaking at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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"And I just didn't get the breakthrough that I needed in the early states and felt it was important to not move on without a clear path to winning," he added.

Bush told donors he was "amazed at the press coverage of the campaign, and the lack of reality to how, at least, I felt the campaign was."

From his perspective, Bush said, voters were more interested in policy substance and solutions than the horserace coverage of the primary.

"At least, the people I was hanging out with, they're a lot more concerned about the student loan problem than they were about who was winning or who was losing. They were concerned about, how do we get...jobs back into our country, much more about that than they were about the latest insult in the campaign," he said.

The Last Days with Jeb Bush: "Like a Funeral"

The former Florida governor told donors he took a few days off after ending his bid, got back in the gym and is "sleeping really well," and that he and his wife are "blessed" to be back home in Miami.

But he hinted his return to politics — at least as a "private citizen," for now — is imminent.

"My hope is that a conservative will win the nomination and that he will go onto win the presidency, for our country's sake, and I intend to do whatever I can to make that happen now as a private citizen," he said.

He gave no indication during the phone call of who he might back.

But his exit from the race opened up a vast network of donors and operatives to the remaining candidates, and two — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, both competing for establishment support — look best-poised to gain from Bush's loss.

Rubio's campaign has already picked up a number of former Bush backers both as endorsements and donors, and Rubio said the two have talked on the phone and plan to meet sometime soon, though he said they had not discussed an endorsement.

Indeed, his two finance chairmen — Woody Johnson, the billionaire owner of the New York Jets, and Jack Oliver, a longtime Bush family fundraiser, both of whom were on the call — would be a big pickup for any candidate looking to raise serious cash in the final sprint to the nomination.

Oliver seemed to indicate the Bush donor network could be rallied to a common cause in the future.

"The good news is, while it doesn't feel great and it's emotionally sad to see this happen for our country, we all have lots of important things to do and do together," he said. "Knowing that, as a collective, the Jeb Bush family — which each and every one of you are a part of — has changed history and will continue to change history, it will be fun to see what we do together and how it happens."

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