Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday morning he will “actively explore” a run for the White House in 2016, becoming the first Republican out of the starting gate nearly two years before Election Day.
In brief messages posted on Facebook and Twitter, Bush, the son and brother of two former Oval Office occupants, said he had discussed the possibility of his candidacy over Thanksgiving weekend and decided to proceed with preparing to launch a campaign.
“As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States,” Bush wrote.
Bush is an early favorite of the Republican party’s establishment and donor class, who have largely remained on the sidelines in anticipation of Bush’s announcement, but he will face ardent opposition from the conservative base of the party, who find his moderate positions on Common Core and immigration reforms to be objectionable. At a panel in Washington earlier this month, Bush said the party’s nominee must “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles,” an indication that he would not change his positions in order to win the nomination.
In recent days, Bush aides have signalled that he was more likely to announce a White House bid, feeling he is the most qualified to take on likely Democratic nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Bush’s announcement is sure to reverberate throughout Republican politics and begin to help sort out a field that includes more than a dozen potential candidates, none of whom have formally announced plans to mount a campaign.
Should he ultimately decide to run, Bush can tap into his family’s vast political network and his campaign would attract strong support from the same donor pool that other establishment-minded Republicans New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie among them, need to fuel their own prospective campaigns.
A Bush candidacy also has the potential to affect the plans of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who came up through Florida politics as a strong Bush supporter and is considering whether to seek re-election to the Senate or run for president in 2016.
In January, Bush will form a leadership PAC to allow him to travel the country and to donate money to state and local officials who could support him should he make his announcement official. But he is stopping short of official forming a “presidential exploratory committee,” which would mean he and his aides could not coordinate with outside groups.
The full Bush note:
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.
We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.
We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.
In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.
In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.
Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon.