WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush took another big step Tuesday toward a run for president, with the formal launching of a political committee that will be a vehicle for him to raise money, assemble a staff and travel the country.
At the same time came the formation of a Super PAC that can collect unlimited donations. It will be run by people who aided Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.
Both committees will carry the name Right to Rise, and Bush previewed a would-be campaign theme, trying to sound hopeful while saying the American Dream was slipping away from many.
"While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they've been a lost decade for the rest of America," Bush wrote on the committee's website. "We are not leading — at home or abroad." He talked about how many people feel the playing field "is no longer fair or level."
Bush sketched out a broad agenda, from tackling a "broken and obsolete immigration system" to lifting education standards that suggested he would seek to make good on a promise to focus on a general election strategy. "We will not cede an inch of territory — no issues, no demographic groups, no voters — as we unite our citizens to strengthen America through greater economic growth and widespread prosperity."
The former Florida governor, who some have suggested is rusty, tried to put a modern touch on the announcement, making a cellphone-shot video, in English and Spanish, as he walked down the street in Manhattan, where he was meeting with donors, and posting it to Instagram.
He also used Facebook and Twitter, the latter of which lit up with some mockery of his vertically shot video, the logo and even the name of his committee.
But Bush continues to set a fast and aggressive pace, dominating the 2016 attention since he first announced three weeks ago he was "actively" considering a run. He is coalescing some of the country's top political donors and assembling a formidable team of advisers.
Today Bush will travel to Greenwich, Conn., for a PAC fundraiser hosted by allies of the Bush political dynasty. He will spend the coming weeks at fundraisers and meeting with donors, with events planned in Florida and Washington.
The leadership committee, which can accept individual donations up to $5,000, will allow Bush to travel the country and add staff. Donors would not be prohibited from giving to Bush if he formally launches a political campaign.
"At the Right to Rise PAC, we will support candidates who want to restore the promise of America with a positive, conservative vision of reform and renewal," he wrote.
The Super PAC is a more muscular entity that underscores Bush's seriousness about running for president. Donors will be able to give unlimited amounts, allowing Bush to build a war chest that could serve to scare off other Republican challengers and promote him with ads or respond to critics.
Because Bush is not a federal office holder or an official candidate, he could work closely with the Super PAC, though that would change if he runs. Bush as a candidate could still talk at fundraisers for the group, whose treasurer will be Charlie Spies, a Washington lawyer who ran the Restore Our Future Super PAC that backed Romney. Restore Our Future spent more than $142 million.
Other potential candidates already have leadership PACs, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.