DENVER (CBS4) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in Colorado on Tuesday and spoke at the Brown Palace in Denver as part of a town hall event.
Bush is one of nearly two dozen names that have surfaced as potential Republican presidential nominees. But a Quinnipiac Poll last month found his ties to the White House hurt him in battleground Colorado.
His visit to the Brown Palace focused on energy, as Colorado is not only a swing state, it’s Ground Zero in the fracking debate.
“I’m seriously considering the possibility of a new phase in my life,” Bush told the audience.
Bush stopped short of announcing his candidacy for president, but admitted Colorado would be a great place to do so. He zeroed in on one of the biggest issues in the swing state — energy development.
“The one thing that we have at our disposal for the quickest jump-start for sustained economic growth is the energy sector,” Bush said.
While the event was billed as a town hall, it was an invitation-only crowd of mainly energy sector employees. Bush told them it’s time to lift the ban on exporting crude oil, and criticized the EPA’s proposed new carbon rules.
“The idea that somehow if you could hallow out your industrial core, you could reduce carbon emissions for sure … you’re also reducing jobs, income,” Bush said.
Like Mitt Romney, Bush is considered the establishment candidate. But he took pains to show he’s more personable, including poking fun at those who’ve taken up the anti-fracking mantra.
“When you have Matt Damon doing a movie and people start citing him, which I’ve had happen to me … I don’t know, somewhere we’ve lost our way a bit,” Bush said.
He got plenty of applause at the Brown Palace, but it wasn’t the group he’ll have to convince should he run for president — which he said he hasn’t made a decision on yet.
“Just for the record, I’m not a candidate. I’m seriously considering the possibility of being a candidate,” he said.
Bush didn’t take any questions from the media in Denver, but at a stop in Colorado Springs Tuesday morning he was asked about his 2009 voter registration form where he identified himself as Hispanic. He said it was a mistake and he’s not sure what the big deal is.