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

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."

See more of Bush's campaign for president:

10 PHOTOS
Jeb Bush campaign
See Gallery
Bush to donors: Campaign derailed by year of 'disruption,' 'outsiders'
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"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."

More from NBC News:
Is It Legal to Force Apple to Unlock Shooter's iPhone?
Mitt Romney Warns of Possible 'Bombshell' in Trump's Taxes
Fukushima Chiefs Apologize for Failing to Reveal Meltdown

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.