Republicans Who Supported Jeb Bush for President in 2016

Former Florida Governor Won Early Support

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was widely considered to be the front-runner in the earliest stages of the 2016 presidential race. He entered the race after being courted by some pretty big names in the Republican Party. The younger brother to former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush won support from many establishment Republicans, or the mainstream and more well heeled members of the party.

But he dropped out of the race in February of 2016, after losing the first three primaries and when it became clear Donald Trump, the unlikeliest of presidential aspirants, was winning support with a strong nationalist message that appealed to disaffected working class voters in middle America. "I fully believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who believes whoever holds it is a servant, not the master," Bush said in announcing his decision.

Bush later endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for the nomination.

So who thought Bush was going to win in 2016?

Here's a look at five big-name Republicans who supported Bush in one way or another, whether they are members of Congress or wealthy donors, and whether they are supporting Bush directly or indirectly.

01
of 05
John Boehner

Republican U.S. Rep. John Boehner
Republican U.S. Rep. John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has said he has been encouraging Bush to run for president. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News

The former House speaker known for his battles with the conservative Tea Party wing of the GOP was vocal in support of a Bush candidacy. He went on record as encouraging Bush to run for president in 2016 as early as May 2014.

“We’ve got a lot of good candidates out there, and yes, Jeb Bush is my friend, I think he’d make a great president. And I’ve been nudging him for some time,” Boehner said.

02
of 05
Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson. Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

The multibillionaire businessman and prolific contributor to Republican candidates hadn't been quoted on the record as supporting Jeb Bush for president. But Adelson, who is very influential in Republican Party politics, threw at least one VIP dinner for Bush.

That dinner, according to The Washington Post, kicked off a four-day leadership conference held by the Republican Jewish Coalition. According to an account of the event in The Post, the roughly 60 dinner invitees "bust into applause" when one donor told Bush: “I hope you run for president in 2016.”

The Post also said Bush met privately with Adelson, though the two did not reportedly talk about the 2016 presidential campaign.

03
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George W. Bush

President George W. Bush
Getty Images

This, of course, is a no-brainer. Families stick together, especially in politics, so it would be big news of former President George W. Bush didn't publicly support his brother.  

The 41st president of the United States said at a February 2016 rally for his brother:

“Jeb is man of deep and humble faith that reveals itself through good works, not loud words. I understand that Americans are angry and frustrated. But we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our frustration.”

04
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Andrew Card

Andrew Card
Andrew Card said Republicans have an obligation to make sure Bush runs. White House

The former adviser to former President George W. Bush told BuzzFeed in April 2014 that members of his party would be foolish not to recruit Jeb Bush to run for president in 2016.

“We have a responsibility to make sure Jeb runs,” he said. “If Jeb Bush does not run, shame on us. I would work in a Jeb administration in a heartbeat.”

05
of 05
Joe Scarborough

Joe Scarborough
Joe Scarborough.

The MSNBC talk show host and former member of Congress described Bush as a skilled politician and leader, but wasn't necessarily convinced that he could win the White House.

"He was a great governor and I think he'd be a great candidate, but there's an awful lot of questions about whether Americans want another Bush," Scarborough has said.

The Morning Joe host has also said: "I love Jeb. I'd be thrilled if Jeb were running. But I'm telling you, there's not the excitement out there."

Scarborough was later critical of Bush's campaign, particularly of the candidate's attempts to play to the crowds at his rallies, which the TV host said were clearly not genuine.

"He’s got to start each speech by saying, ‘You know what, I’m a dork. I’ll admit it. You may not want me to hang out with you over the weekend if you and your friends are drinking beer and watching TV because I’m going to slip off to my laptop and I’m going to be trying and figure out how to clean the mess up and it’s who I am. I’m a dork. I’m boring. I am not exciting,'” Scarborough said.