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National

Jeb Bush Inches Closer To 2016 Run

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

An announcement today many have been waiting for - Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, said he's forming a political action committee and will, in his words, actively explore the possibility of running for president in 2016. If he does decide to enter the race, Jeb Bush will be the third member of his family to run for the nation's highest office. NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: The announcement appeared this morning on Jeb Bush's Facebook page. He said he made the decision to explore a presidential bid after talking with his family over Thanksgiving. It comes at a time when polls show him at the top of the field of possible Republican presidential candidates.

Feeding speculation he was preparing to enter the race, Bush had a high-profile in recent weeks. Over the weekend, he told Miami TV station WPLG that if he runs, he'll do it with enthusiasm and passion and joy. It's important, Bush said, to remember that you win by getting at least 50 percent of the vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF WPLG BROADCAST)

JEB BUSH: You can't get to 50 by subtracting. You've got to get to 50 by adding. You don't do well in bringing people together if you're carping, criticizing, turning around and saying well, you're not as good as me. You know, you've got to stay above the fray.

ALLEN: Jeb Bush served as Florida governor for two terms ending in 2007, overlapping with his older brother's stint in the White House. The younger Bush was popular in Florida, a conservative who pushed for tax cuts and brought big changes to the state's educational system. Since leaving office, he's done well in the private sector. Bloomberg Business Week reported recently that his private equity company has invested more than $100 million in aviation and shale oil. That's led to comparisons with Mitt Romney who ran a much larger private equity company, Bain Capital, which made him the target of attacks. In his interview with WPLG, Bush said he thinks one reason Romney struggled in the Republican primary is that he got off message.

(SOUNDBITE OF WPLG BROADCAST)

BUSH: I think about this almost daily. I think Mitt Romney would have been a spectacular president in this time. And he was proven right in a lot of his beliefs and ideas shortly after the election as well. So winning with purpose - winning with meaning - winning with your integrity is what I'm trying to talk about.

ALLEN: Since leaving office as governor, Jeb Bush has become best-known in Republican circles for his advocacy of immigration reform and common core educational standards. His stand on those contentious issues has led some Republicans to brand him as a moderate. The former head of Florida's Republican Party, Al Cardenas, says Bush is well within the party's conservative mainstream.

AL CARDENAS: If you're asking me whether he's compatible with those who prefer the strategy and tactics of stalemate, gridlock and anger, that's an area where you'll have a hard time finding compatibility.

ALLEN: Jeb Bush said over the weekend he's planning on releasing an e-book soon along with some 250,000 e-mails from his eight years as Florida governor. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.