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Jeb Bush backs Cruz for Republican presidential nod

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Former Florida governor Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz Wednesday for the Republican presidential nomination.

"Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests, including yesterday's Utah caucus," Bush said, referring to one of three votes held Tuesday.

"Republicans can win back the White House and put our nation on a path to security and prosperity if we support a nominee who can unite our party and articulate how conservative policies will help people rise up and reach their full potential."

Bush said the Republican Party has to unite or face certain defeat in the election, probably to Hillary Clinton.

In doing so he took a pot shot at frontrunner Donald Trump, who leads Cruz comfortably in the polls.

"For the sake of our party and country, we must overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee, most likely Hillary Clinton, this fall," the statement said.

"That is the only way we can reverse President Obama's failed domestic and foreign policy agenda and turn our country around."

After dropping out of the presidential race last month following a disappointing campaign, Bush, whose brother and father are both former presidents, urged voters to contribute and volunteer for Cruz's campaign.

"As I said from the moment I launched my presidential campaign, the stakes in 2016 couldn't be higher," Bush added.

"Washington is broken, too many families are stuck in poverty and Western civilization is under attack from radical Islamic terrorists, as evidenced by the horrific attack in Brussels, which was preceded by attacks in Paris and California."