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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – After his third straight disappointing finish and a week of speculation, former Florida governor Jeb Bush officially departed the 2016 GOP primary after placing fourth in Saturday's South Carolina primary.

While considered a strong candidate by traditional metrics when he entered the race last year – with many large donors, enormous funds, and a solidly conservative record as governor – Bush's campaign was overwhelmed by the same Trump effect that has upended the Republican Party establishment and primary process.

His largely understated debate performances and negative campaigning also turned off voters – including attacks on Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for opposing rape exceptions for abortion that left pro-life voters looking elsewhere.

Bush's record on social issues was tarred by his membership on a Bloomberg philanthropic board that gave $50 million to international abortion advocacy. LifeSiteNews's reporting on the Bush connection to the funding was quoted by Fox News's Megyn Kelly in the first GOP debate of the 2016 primary season.

The campaign said Bush was not involved in that spending.

Bush raised more than $118 million for his campaign and PAC, according to calculations by TIME.com, and spent nearly $60 million, according to Bustle.com's calculations. He spent about $2,800 per vote in Iowa and $1,150 per vote in New Hampshire – only to place well behind most other candidates.

In South Carolina's Saturday primary, Bush placed a very distant fourth – mere fractions of a percentage point above the last-place finishers, Ohio's Governor John Kasich and neurologist Ben Carson.

Donors and other supporters are likely to shift over to Kasich – a moderate candidate whose campaign is focusing on optimism, fiscal issues, and experience  – or to Rubio, a conservative former Bush protégé who will now likely win the Florida primary. 

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