— -- Jeb Bush is endorsing Ted Cruz for president, arguing that the Texas senator is the best hope of stopping Donald Trump from reaching the Republican nomination.
"Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests," Bush wrote in the statement released this morning. "Washington is broken, and the only way Republicans can hope to win back the White House and put our nation on a better path is to support a nominee who can articulate how conservative policies will help people rise up and reach their full potential."
"For the sake of our party and country, we must move to overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena," Bush wrote.
Cruz said he's honored to earn Bush's support and the endorsement is "further evidence that Republicans are continuing to unite behind our campaign to nominate a proven conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton in November, take back the White House, and ensure a freer and more prosperous America for future generations."
Bush bowed out of the 2016 race in February following his loss in the South Carolina primary.
Bush's backing was not as much of an endorsement of Cruz’s policies as it was a means of stopping Trump. During Bush’s own candidacy, he was critical of the freshman senator, praising his eloquence but saying that he doesn’t have the record or skills to lead the nation.
"And Ted Cruz, gifted again, brilliant, I've seen him, I've talked to him, but there’s nothing in his record to suggest that he's had any adversity or any challenge or any ability to lead,” Bush told a New Hampshire crowd in February.
Bush also criticized Cruz's call to “carpet-bomb” ISIS.
"There are 800,000 people who live in Mosul. There's probably 5,000 Islamic terrorists who control the place. We're going to destroy 800,000 lives with a carpet-bombing activity? This is foolish. It is absolutely foolish. And he had to back away from it,” Bush said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation."
Bush is much more similarly aligned with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who he’s praised as a good and competent governor. But Bush, who has long seen himself as a torchbearer for the conservative cause, believes that Trump is tearing that cause apart and must be stopped at all costs. In the end, the former governor saw Cruz as the best choice to accomplish that goal.