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Jeb Bush explores US president bid

Jeb Bush is taking his most definitive step yet towards running for US president.

The former Republican Florida governor told his followers on Facebook and Twitter he has decided "to actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States".

He also announced plans to form a new political operation that will allow him to raise money for like-minded Republicans.

A Bush spokeswoman said he has still has not made a "final decision" on whether to run, but that he will announce that decision in 2015 after gauging support for his potential campaign.

This past weekend, Mr Bush said he was writing an e-book about his time as governor and promised to release about 250,000 emails from his time in office.

Mr Bush said 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, Mr 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".

Mr Bush's announcement is sure to reverberate throughout Republican politics and begin to help sort out a field that includes more than a dozen potential candidates, none of whom have formally announced plans to mount a campaign.

Should he ultimately decide to run, Mr Bush can tap into his family's vast political network and his campaign would attract strong support from the same donor pool that other establishment-minded Republicans - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie among them - need to fuel their own prospective campaigns.

A Bush candidacy also has the potential to affect the plans of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who came up through Florida politics as a strong Bush supporter and is considering whether to seek re-election to the Senate or run for president in 2016.

The statement is the latest and most definitive signal that Bush plans to try and become the third member of his family to serve as president.

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