DENVER (AP) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Tuesday for a stronger national defense and a consistent foreign policy but said the U.S. shouldn’t enter into another Cold War.

Speaking at an energy town hall in Denver, Bush said the U.S. should be more active in its dealings with Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s invasion into Crimea.

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“I think by being engaged, Putin should look at the actions that he takes and say, ‘The risk is too high, that there is going to be a consequence that will hurt, you know, my popularity and will hurt my people.’ Right now he assesses these risks and doesn’t think that the United States is going to be engaged and acts kind of with impunity,” Bush said.

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The likely presidential candidate praised hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling as an economic driver that could also give the U.S. “a national security advantage for ourselves and for the rest of the world.”

Bush was in Colorado as part of his Right to Rise initiative, which raises money for GOP leaders in battleground states. He is coming off a quarter in which he was expected to have held roughly 60 fundraisers across the country for a political action committee and super PAC, both with the name Right to Rise, as he moves closer to announcing his candidacy for president.

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Jeb Bush at the event in Denver on Tuesday (credit: CBS)

Jeb Bush at the event in Denver on Tuesday (credit: CBS)

While Bush has made trips to early-voting states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, he has held public events in comparatively few other states. However, Colorado represents a nod to general election swing voters who narrowly eluded Republicans in 2012. President Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by less than 5 percentage points in Colorado in 2012.

Bush plans to speak to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce on April 14 in Columbus. Obama beat Romney by less than 2 percentage points in Ohio.

At a Colorado Springs pancake house earlier Tuesday, Bush told a group of military veterans that if he runs for president, he’ll lay out foreign policy views that make clear that “our friends know that we have their back and our enemies fear us a little bit.”

– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

Associated Press writers P. Solomon Banda in Colorado Springs and Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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