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Bush ends campaign as Trump wins S. Carolina; Clinton clinches Nevada

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ends bid for White House after failing to break into top three in S. Carolina primary

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is ending his bid for the White House after failing to break into the top three in the GOP primary in South Carolina.

Donald Trump won the Republican contest, his second straight victory after New Hampshire. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were in a close race for second.

In the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Hillary Clinton beat back a strong challenge from Bernie Sanders.

A teary-eyed Bush says he's proud of the campaign he ran to unify the country and advocate conservative solutions.

"Despite what you have heard, ideas matter, policies matter," Bush told a crowd when announcing the end of his campaign. "I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is a servant, not the master."

The son and brother of former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush entered the race to huge expectations in June and quickly fueled them with fundraising.

But he quickly slid in the polls behind some of his more outspoken Republican rivals such as billionaire businessman Trump and Cruz, who have billed themselves as anti-establishment alternatives to the early front-runner.

Following disappointing performances in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Bush pinned his hopes on South Carolina, a state where the Bush name has maintained some clout. But after failing to top Cruz or Rubio, he would likely have faced pressure from GOP leaders and donors to drop out had he stayed in the race.

Fundraising reports filed Saturday night show how dire Bush's financial situation had become.

His big-money super PAC raised just $379,000 in January, and most of that was from a single donor who'd also given the same amount to rival Marco Rubio. The group, Right to Rise, had blown through more than $85 million over the past nine months, largely on TV ads, bashing other candidates, most notably Rubio.

Meanwhile, Bush's official campaign — which provided basic funding for his travel and political staff — had less than $3 million in available cash as the month began. He had only been able to raise $1.6 million in January, despite a once-sprawling donor network.

Bush, like others, was caught off-guard by the durable popularity of political outsiders — particularly Trump.

The final stage of Bush's campaign became an all-out bout with the outspoken real estate mogul — the two frequently referring to each other as a "loser." Bush took shots at Trump's lack of experience while Trump attacked Bush's family legacy, particularly the unpopular Iraq war waged by his brother George W. Bush.

Bush, meanwhile, offered himself as an experienced public executive and potential world statesman informed in part by his father's and brother's wartime presidencies. But it wasn't a case strong enough to translate into votes.

"I just don't see a third Bush presidency," Julie Michau of Beaufort, South Carolina, said Wednesday after attending a Bush event.

For the Democrats, Clinton's victory in Nevada could help calm worries among supporters about the strength of her campaign and denies Sanders the breakthrough win he sought in a state with a heavy minority population. But his ability to close a one-time double-digit polling lead for Clinton suggested the Democratic nominating race would be long and hard fought.

With 79 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton was leading with 52.1 percent of the vote to Sanders' 47.8 percent. Vote counting was delayed in Nevada by heavy turnout.

Clinton's victory buoyed worried supporters and gave her fresh momentum as she heads into the next contest in South Carolina on Feb. 27, where polls show her with a double-digit lead largely as a result of heavy support from black voters.

"Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other," she told cheering supporters at a victory rally in Las Vegas. "This is your campaign."

After routing Clinton in New Hampshire and finishing a strong second in Iowa, states with nearly all-white populations, Sanders was hoping to prove in Nevada that he could win over black and Hispanic voters and compete nationally as the race moves to states with more diverse populations.

But entrance polling in Nevada showed he badly lost among black voters, by 76 percent to 22 percent, a bad omen for South Carolina and other southern states with big black populations. He did win among Hispanics by 53 percent to 45 percent.

Clinton's campaign has argued she would assert control of the Democratic race once it moved to more diverse states with black and Hispanic populations who have traditionally backed Clinton and have been slow to warm to Sanders.

Sanders said in a statement that he was proud he was able to make the election in Nevada close after his early polling deficit there.

"We have the wind at our back as we head toward Super Tuesday," Sanders said.

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