Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush today 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 in the message, which was reportedly first "riddled with typos" but has apparently since been fixed. "In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America."
Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, 61, said he will announce his final decision on whether to seek the nomination next year "after gauging support." "This is a natural next step and represents a new phase of his consideration process," Campbell said. That phase will include an expansion of Bush's political operations. He said today he will start his own leadership political action committee in January, which will allow him to raise money and use it to support candidates in other races. In his statement, Bush said the committee "will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC's purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans." Politico reported yesterday that South Carolina could be pivotal to Bush's success. (Read more Jeb Bush stories.)