Pundits are saying that the endorsement Marco Rubio got from Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina may be the death knell for the Bush campaign. Jeb Bush had avidly sought the nod from Haley. On Feb. 16, he said in an interview on NBC “She is the probably the most meaningful endorsement if there is, if she is going to give an endorsement it would be the most powerful meaningful one in the state.”

When news emerged on the following day that Haley had gone with Rubio, Bush snapped “It’s all decided, apparently. The pundits have already figured it out. We don’t have to go vote. I should stop campaigning maybe, huh? It’s all done.” After taking a step back, Bush said “That's not how democracy works.” During a Feb. 17 exchange with voters in South Carolina, who had heard a speech that was more energetic than has been usual, Bush received unsolicited advice from three members of the audience that he should act “tougher.” Bush has suffered throughout much of the campaign after Donald Trump said that he had “low energy.”

After months of speculation, Jeb Bush decided to bring in elder brother George W. Bush, the former president, who remains popular in South Carolina. Some observers found that Jeb suffered in comparison to George, whose political acumen was on display at a rally this week in North Charleston. Having once had more than $119 million in his war chest in 2015, Bush now reportedly has only $15 million left.

According to political pundit Erick Erickson, sources in the Bush campaign are saying that if he does not show a strong third-place showing in the Feb. 20 South Carolina poll, he will probably retire from the field. Recent polls in South Carolina, however, show Bush is still trailing Rubio. His results in Iowa and New Hampshire were also disappointing, and he has been stung by remarks made by Trump that despite spending millions on advertising, Bush has still not advanced.

According to Erickson, the “Bush team is out of money. Pay for campaign staff will end on Saturday. The campaign is all but over.” But Erickson sees a silver lining for Bush, opining that he could be “king maker” if he drops out now and thus “significantly” shakes things up.

By getting out now, and endorsing a candidate of his choice, Bush could have a greater effect on the destiny of the GOP during this election cycle, says Erickson, than if he were to remain on the ballot this weekend. “This would be like Rich Perry in 2012, who got out,” wrote Erickson, “cast his support to Gingrich at the last minute, and saw Gingrich storm into first place in South Carolina.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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