"The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision," Bush said in South Carolina tonight. "So I am suspending my campaign."
And with those few words, an entire era of American political history was over. Bush launched his presidential bid last June in a quest to become the third member of his family in the White House. But throughout his campaign he faced questions about how he was different from the two other presidents named Bush -- his father and brother.
He also invoked his unwavering focus on policy and character.
"I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds," Bush said. "We put forward detailed, innovative, conservative plans to address the mounting challenges that we face, because despite what you might have heard, ideas matter, policy matters."
And Bush, who in the waning weeks of his campaign sparred relentlessly with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, reiterated his belief that the presidency is for the humble.
"I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is a servant, not the master," he said. "Someone who will commit to that service with honor and decency."
He thanked his volunteers, supporters and "all the fellow grinders in our campaign, our staff who never, ever, ever gave up."
And he offered a nod to the candidates -- now his former rivals -- who remain in the race.
"I congratulate my competitors that are remaining on the island, on their success for a race that has been hard-fought," Bush said.
"I've had an incredible life," he added, "and for me, public service has been the highlight of that life."