Despite strong denials from inside Jeb Bush’s orbit, a confidant of the former Florida governor reportedly reached out to New Hampshire Republican strategists this week to talk about the former Florida governor’s potential presidential campaign.
RealClearPolitics says that the overture from Bush’s camp was to a pair of experienced and admired New Hampshire GOP operatives; each had directed presidential campaigns in the Granite State.
“Keep your powder dry,” was the message, hinting Bush could mount a White House run early next year.
“I think the decision’s been made, personally,” one of the strategists – who requested anonymity – told RCP.
However, a spokesperson for Bush is categorically denying the veracity of the report.
“Governor Bush has not made a decision yet on whether he will run for President,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell, told RCP. “He has not reached out to anyone in New Hampshire, including these anonymous, unnamed ‘operatives.'”
Neither was contacted by Bush personally, but both were asked if they would be interested in speaking with the prospective candidate.
Indirect exchanges like this – communicating with potential top staffers — are typical for a candidate finalizing a decision on a presidential run.
“I’ve definitely perceived an uptick in the perception of him doing this,” said the consultant of the exchange with Bush’s camp.
Bush also made headlines this week when he said Republicans have to “lose the primary to win the general.”
The comment suggested a strategy of not appealing to the most conservative members of the party, keeping the ability to move toward the center for the general election.
If Bush does decide to enter the race, New Hampshire, where primary voters are mostly moderate Republicans and independents, could be one of the early states critical to his campaign.
Both New Hampshire strategists did say they were interested in talking with Bush.
“Of the Bushes,” one of the strategists told RCP, “he’s the guy I like the best. If I were betting money on it, I’d bet he’d be the nominee because you’ll have eight to 10 conservatives beating each other up, and someone will take the middle, and it’ll be either him or Christie.