Dec 17, 2014 11:16 AM
NH1 Political Team - NH1.com
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a surprise, pre-holiday move into the testing of the waters for President and New Hampshire insiders praised him for it.
For about a month, the brother and son of former presidents was looking more and more like a potential candidate, releasing 250,000 e-mails over the weekend from his days as chief executive of the Sunshine State.
On Sunday he tells a Florida TV station that "I would be a good president'' and that he is writing an e-book outlining his vision for the country.
Then on Monday he gives the commencement speech at the University of South Carolina which hosts the first southern primary in the race for the White House.
On Tuesday, Bush went to Facebook to confirm he's seriously exploring a presidential run for 2016 and that he would form a leadership political action committee next month to finance this phase.
Ryan Williams, a GOP consultant who worked on Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, says Bush has to know from his family's experience that name recognition and money alone won't win this race.
"Gov. Bush's obviously a very formidable candidate, but just like every other potential 2016 candidate, he starts the race at a point where he needs to introduce himself to voters,'' Williams said.
"Just because he's a strong national figure doesn't guarantee him support in New Hampshire. He's going to have to earn it just like every other candidate will.''
Republican National Committeeman and longtime campaign strategist Tom Rath said Bush's early move could also affect the Democratic race as well.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is already the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination if she decides to do it and has a 2008 New Hampshire primary victory on her resume.
Bush will appeal to independent and middle-of-the-road voters and should force Clinton to make an even earlier and more aggressive effort in New Hampshire, Rath said.
Another Republican strategist who asked not to be identified, said insiders are not surprised.
Moving this quickly, however, spells trouble for others looking at the race and trying to line up early money for it.
"It's clear to me that this morning's Facebook post puts a chill on Republican money all over the country,'' the GOP strategist said Tuesday.
"I think that Jeb basically called check this morning. Jeb put a hold on the big GOP money.
"In his one sentence announcement this morning, Jeb Bush has done more to transform the Republican race in 2016 than anything else has done to date.''
Congressman-Elect Frank Guinta said Jeb Bush backers have already reached out and are trying to arrange a meeting with him.
Guinta said this could be a record number of contenders for the nomination.
"I think it's going to be a fascinating primary process,'' Guinta told NH1. "I think a lot of people feel like there's an opportunity and i think that's because of the frustration people have across the country with the way president Obama has taken the country.''
Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey served as John McCain's constant companion during and after McCain won his second New Hampshire primary in 2008.
"I think Governor Bush could do very well here,'' Duprey began.
"I think this is the most wide open presidential primary I have seen in my lifetime because there is not only not an incumbent there isn't someone like Romney who was after Mccain who was after Bush who is the heir apparent.''
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