Former Florida governor and 2016 candidate Jeb Bush will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in November, according to a post on his Facebook account. Bush wrote Friday that Trump "has not displayed a respect for the Constitution" and "is not a consistent conservative," while Clinton "has proven to be an untrustworthy liberal politician." As such, Bush said that he "will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton," and will instead focus on helping "principled conservatives at the state and federal levels."
"American voters have made it clear that Washington is broken, but I’m not optimistic that either of the leading candidates for President will put us on a better course," Bush wrote. "The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years. Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character."
This is a rather monumental flip-flop on Bush's part. During his own failed candidacy for the Republican nomination, Bush pledged to support the eventual GOP nominee on many occasions, and refused to even entertain the notion that Trump would be that nominee.
"[Trump is] not going to be the nominee," Bush told Chuck Todd in December. "I will support the Republican nominee and I'm working hard to make sure I'm it."
"So, you will support the Republican nominee no matter what the voters decide?" Todd asked.
"Absolutely," Bush said without hesitation. "It's not going to be Donald Trump."
Bush isn't alone. During the first Republican primetime debate, the candidates were all asked if they would commit to supporting the GOP nominee no matter what. In a what turned out to be an ironic twist, Trump was the only candidate on the stage who refused to take the pledge. Every other Republican on stage pledged to back the GOP nominee, no matter who the voters chose.
At the time, none of the candidates were taking Trump's candidacy seriously yet, and the question was seen as an attempt to force Trump into ruling out a third-party run of his own if he lost the nomination. Now he's the nominee, though, and as such, every former Republican candidate is on the record promising to support him.
Bush is the first of these candidates to explicitly break the pledge and say he won't vote Trump. He probably won't be the last.