Jeb Bush Takes Another Big Step Toward Running For President

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush’s putative “exploration” of a Presidential run is looking more and more like an actual Presidential campaign:

Jeb Bush’s fundraising operation is about to get serious.

Allies of the former Florida governor are planning to roll out both a leadership PAC and a super PAC in the coming days in an effort to lock up major donors and give pause to potential rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, according to several sources.

They say the two PACs are planning their finance teams, as well as first quarter fundraising events, including some in Florida and one in Washington before the end of the month.

The plan is a bold one that in some ways echoes — and updates — the aggressive pre-campaign fundraising approach taken by Mitt Romney ahead of his 2008 and 2012 runs.

It’s unclear how or whether the two pieces of the pro-Bush money machine will operate together, or to what extent the would-be candidate himself would be involved in them, since a host of complicated federal laws and regulations govern political action committees. Bush’s allies were under strict orders not to talk to the media about the planned PAC launches.

But such a set-up could potentially allow Bush’s supporters to raise huge contributions or secure pledges into a super PAC that could tout his attributes — or criticize potential rivals — before an official campaign launches. A leadership PAC, meanwhile, could accept smaller checks to fund a pre-campaign political operation.

Bush has said he is “actively exploring” a presidential campaign, and he has stepped away from other commitments that might impede such a run.

Bush’s fundraising moves may be the surest indication of his intentions: One veteran GOP fundraiser asserted they demonstrate that the former governor is ready to run and credited him with capitalizing on support among much sought-after GOP bundlers.

“Everybody was saying Jeb didn’t know how to campaign in the modern day, but he is moving on the fundraising side much more aggressively and much more effectively than everyone else in the field put together,” the fundraiser said. “By going early, he has really made it much harder for a lot of these other guys in the establishment wing of the party.”

Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to discuss the specifics of the Florida Republican’s fundraising operation.

“Governor Bush has not yet established his leadership PAC. He will be establishing one soon,” Campbell wrote in an email. She did not answer a follow-up question about the super PAC plans, but said, “Governor Bush looks forward to traveling the country in the coming months to talk about opportunities and challenges facing our nation and to support great candidates who share his optimistic, conservative vision for the future.”

Representations that he is merely “exploring” a Presidential bid notwithstanding, this seems to be surest sign yet that Bush is indeed running and that he intends to get started on the process earlier than some may have anticipated. Most importantly, it seems to be an effort to show signs of early strength in fundraising to make the case that he is indeed the strong candidate that this supporters have claimed that he would be, as well as to potentially impact the decisions of candidates such as Chris Christie and Marco Rubio who arguably would be looking to some of the same fundraising sources. By moving this quickly, of course, Bush may end up forcing these other candidates to start making their own opening moves much earlier than they might have planned, otherwise they risk 2016 turning into a situation not dissimilar from 2012 when one candidate wraps up support of the “establishment” while the remainder end up having to rely on the type of insurgent campaign that rarely succeeds in Republican circles.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    Now all he has to do is decide if he believes in equal rights for everyone, or just straight people.
    Of course Obama also struggled with the same thing.
    Hopefully Bush will figure it out, too.

  2. reid says:

    Please, can we focus on some topics other than who’s running for president?

  3. Butch Bracknell says:

    You know, if you don’t like the topics, you could simply not read it.

    If the establishment gives us Bush v. Clinton in ’16, I’ll…I’ll…well, I’ll be very sad, but I won’t move to Canada because it’s cold and their effective tax rate is high and they don’t like baseball that much.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Elizabeth Warren? Hillary Clinton?
    Right now, I think Jeb would win.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve believed for a long time that Jeb would run, and I’ve never bought the narrative that his family name would stop him. Not if it’s Clinton-Bush. You can’t have a Clinton and whine about a Bush.

    (Yes, I’m aware that Clinton and Bush should yield some kind of Lewinsky joke. But I’m above that. Also, haven’t had enough coffee to come up with one.)

    I assume Jeb is going for the Texas and Vegas money – oil and casinos. It’s a good move to cut off both Romney and Christie, not to mention the various Walkers and Jindals and Rubios and so on. It’s all about the Benjamins right now. Romney would still have Mormon money but without a wider cash base he’ll look niche.

    But what of the all-important Goldman-Sachs vote? Who will Goldman-Sachs choose to be our next president? Gosh, it’s exciting being able to watch from the sidelines while our capitalist overlords choose our leaders. I love democracy.

  6. Scott says:

    @michael reynolds: Given that Cruz’ wife works for G-S… a split?. Actually, sadly, I agree with al-Ameda that Jeb could win.

  7. Anonne says:

    Anything is possible, especially if the Democrats continue the culture warrior line instead of Clinton’s brilliance: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

  8. Pinky says:

    @Anonne: “It’s the economy, stupid” only works if you’re running against someone who is perceived as being responsible for a current weak economy.

  9. Moosebreath says:


    ““It’s the economy, stupid” only works if you’re running against someone who is perceived as being responsible for a current weak economy.”

    Considering that Jeb’s primary qualification is sharing family dinners with the Presidents under whom the last two recessions occurred, and favoring policies similar to those Presidents, it can also work as a way of warning the public that electing another Bush increases the risk of another recession.

  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Folks, I already made the call before the midterm elections…

    I said conservatives would win the midterms due to DEM apathy (done)

    … and then the conservatives will completely blow it by passing wackadoodle bills that will generally upset the majority of America.

    C’mon face it, they can’t help themselves… Governance is not their strong suit… pandering to the corporations while talking up a socially derisive agenda is all they know. [ ex: Keystone pipeline is still high on their agenda and up for a vote next week, even though global oil prices are crashing.]

    The echo chamber will be far too strong in DC for them to realize that they are completely out-of-touch.

    So, following two years of remarkable TeaPublican lunacy…

    … that will result in the current President doing some more executive orders to keep America going (resulting in even higher public opinion #’s)…

    And — finally — the DEMS will have realized that running on the Obama legacy of US Economic Recovery (and not AWAY from that legacy as they did in the midterms) will make a huge hit with the American Public.

    They may even reach back into the FDR barrel and start singing “Happy Days are Here Again!”

    And, another DEM will be elected President, because the economy will just keep getting better.

    I figure the schadenfrude will bloom beautifully in 2016. 🙂

    Do I have any takers for bets?

    I’ll be happy to start an escrow account.

  11. Gustopher says:

    It’s the glasses. He’s tacking towards the middle, not taking the extreme and very noticeable glasses of Rick Perry, but still looking to distinguish himself from his brother.

  12. al-Ameda says:


    “It’s the economy, stupid” only works if you’re running against someone who is perceived as being responsible for a current weak economy.

    Yes – 5% grown in GDP, UE declining and down to 5.8%, DJIA at record highs, low inflation, housing market recovered from the 2008 disaster – I can see how many on the Right would see the economy as weak compared with those heady times when we were shedding jobs at a rate of 700,000 per month (aka “the good old days.”)

  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    C’mon face it, they (GOP) can’t help themselves… Governance is not their strong suit… pandering to the corporations while talking up a socially derisive agenda is all they know.

    Well, That was quick!

    I guess we really don’t need social security anyways.,.. right?

    Day 1 fun!

  14. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Well, since Mitt Romney is now doing the coy fan dance as well, it’ll be interesting to see which one of them grabs the attention of the moneybags.

    (Too bad we can’t get Christie in the mess as well, I’d love to see him in debate.)

    Then there’s Huckabee, Ben Carson, and whoever else the far right coughs up like a hairball.

  15. Will Taylor says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Got a bet there, I’ll meet it.

    78001 REPUBLICANS +159
    78002 DEMOCRATS -183
    78003 ANY OTHER PARTY +5000

    I Was 3-0 with my Senate bets, so watch out. Joni Ernst was my big winner, but I’ll take Jeb & you can take Hillary. If you want a death or illness clause with Hillary, we can change the odds.