Tallahassee: Former Florida Gov Jeb Bush on Tuesday took his most definitive step yet toward running for president, announcing plans to "actively explore" a campaign and form a new political operation allowing him to raise money for like-minded Republicans.
In a holiday message posted on Bush's Facebook page and Twitter account, the son and brother of past Republican presidents said he discussed the "future of our nation" and a potential bid for the White House with members of his family over the Thanksgiving holiday.
"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.
The announcement by Bush, who is among the more moderate potential candidates, 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.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, who has not yet declared her candidacy, appears to be the early favorite.
Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, said he has not yet made a final decision on whether to seek the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016.
She said that he will announce his decision next year "after gauging support" for a run.
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.
Today's statement is the latest and most definitive signal that Bush plans to try and become the third member of his family to serve as president.