Jeb Bush joined the growing ranks Friday of Republican politicians in Miami-Dade County unwilling to embrace Donald Trump as their presidential nominee.
The ex-presidential candidate wrote on Facebook that he won’t vote for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump — Bush’s chief GOP campaign foe — or likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“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,” wrote Bush, the son and brother of two former presidents.
“Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”
Reporters had pressed Bush’s spokeswoman for the former Florida governor’s position since Trump became the de facto nominee earlier this week, when his last remaining rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, exited the race following Trump’s easy Indiana primary win.
Two of Miami’s three Republicans in Congress, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both early Bush supporters, said this week they won’t vote for Trump or Clinton.
Miami-Dade is Florida’s biggest county, and the only one Trump lost in the state’s March 15 primary. Its politics are blue and most of its voters are Hispanic. Trump’s most recent attempt at Hispanic outreach was tweeting a photo of himself eating a taco bowl for Cinco de Mayo.
Ros-Lehtinen, the dean of the local GOP delegation, confirmed her position to the Miami Herald on Friday.
“I will work with whomever is chosen by the American people to serve as president, because I deeply respect the American constitutional system” she said. “In this election, I do not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who had said Thursday he wasn’t ready to back Trump, said Friday he will meet with Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus next week.
A little while later on Facebook, Bush congratulated Trump and said he will “support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels, just as I have done my entire life” — just not Trump himself.
As for Clinton, Bush said she “has proven to be an untrustworthy liberal politician who, if elected, would present a third term of the disastrous foreign and economic policy agenda of Barack Obama.”
“There is no doubt that he successfully tapped into the deep sense of anger and frustration so many Americans around the country rightfully feel today,” Bush wrote Friday.
Trump branded Bush “low-energy,” a stubborn label that quickly stuck. Trump reveled in mocking Bush, even after Bush had left the campaign.
Bush was not the only former Republican candidate to vow he’ll abstain from the race come November. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who dropped out of the contest earlier and backed Bush, said Friday he can’t support Trump or Clinton, either, for much the same reasons as Bush.
“I may just pass, I may write somebody in, I don’t know, but I’m going to be enthusiastically behind the South Carolina Republican team,” Graham told CNN. He said Trump “did a hell of a thing,” beating the GOP field. “I just really believe that the Republican Party has been conned here.”
Speaking at a Nebraska rally Friday afternoon, Trump pledged: “I won’t talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say he’s low energy. I will not say it!”
And he pointedly responded to Graham, who got booed by the crowd.
“You ever see this guy on television? He is nasty. He gets out-dealt at every level of the campaign. He leaves a disgrace,” Trump said. “And then I see him on television knocking me. You know, you’re supposed to be coming together.”