Jeb Stokes 2016 Fire With Fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Branstad

Image: Jeb Stokes 2016 Fire With Fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Branstad Jeb Bush, left, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 10:49 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Jeb Bush will host a fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on May 22, a move that could signal his intention to run for president in 2016.

The former Florida governor has not confirmed that he is looking toward the White House, but the Coral Gables, Fl., event would be his first step into the ring should he decide to run.

Bush was last in Iowa in October 2012 for a speech at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. He said last month that he would make up his mind on his 2016 plans by the end of this year.

"It turns out that not running has generated more interest than if I said I was running," Bush said.

Branstad was impressed with how Bush was able to beef up Florida's economy during his time as governor from 1999 to 2007.

"We are thankful a national leader like Gov. Jeb Bush is hosting this fundraiser for our campaign," Branstad campaign manager Jake Ketzner told the Des Moines Register.  "Given Gov. Bush's popularity and unmatched record as governor of Florida, we believe this will be a very successful fundraiser, and the governor is excited to attend."

Two other potential GOP nominees for president in 2016 — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — are also slated to host fundraisers and events for Branstad this month.

An Iowa poll in December asked voters about 10 potential Republican candidates for the next presidential election. Bush was tied with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Christie, with a favorability rating of 51 percent among Republican voters. Wisconsin Sen. Paul Ryan led the way with a 73 percent favorable rating, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (66 percent), former Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. and Sen. Rick Santorum (58 percent), and Perry (55 percent).

In the wake of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that left Christie's image tarnished, wealthy GOP donors are slowly moving from Christie and to Bush.

"They love the Bush family," said Barry Wynn, former chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina as well as a George W. Bush fundraiser. "They love the whole package, and they feel Jeb is just a part of the package."

The Washington Post reported in March that "powerful insiders and financiers" were urging Bush to run for president.

"He's the most desired candidate out there," GOP fundraiser Brian Ballard told the Post. "Everybody that I know is excited about it."

Bush has stayed in the national spotlight, endorsing GOP candidates for office and speaking out about issues like immigration reform.

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