Campaigning for 2016 without a campaign

DENVER—The field of official presidential candidates on the Republican side grew to two on Tuesday, with Rand Paul announcing his plans to run.

Meanwhile, Colorado got a visit from Jeb Bush, who's holding campaign-style events without yet forming an official campaign.

Bush held a town-hall style meeting with oil executives and prominent Colorado Republicans on Tuesday at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver.

The crowd ate up what the former Florida governor had to say about policy and humored him on football, offering a half-hearted applause when Bush asked whether they still like Tim Tebow.

Throughout the event, Bush had to do the delicate dance that all not-quite-yet-running candidates must.

"I am seriously considering the possibility of a new phase in my life," Bush said.

For all the disclaimers on stage, not having an official campaign yet comes with distinct advantages, which are also being enjoyed by Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side of the aisle right now.

As of Tuesday, Bush and Clinton are just private citizens thinking about running, which makes them free to coordinate with political action committees (PACs) and raise unlimited amounts of money.

"As soon as you announce you're going to even have a headquarters, the rules start to run," said 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli, who considers Bush the most capable fundraiser in the GOP field.

Ciruli is talking about campaign finance rules which come with caps on donations to candidates and regular reporting requirements.

On the GOP side, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul flipped that switch by announcing runs for the White House, which means no coordinating with PACs anymore.

They cashed in that ability for the buzz that comes with a person declaring that they are seeking the highest elected office in the land.

The Democratic field is much less crowded.

Like Bush, Clinton can also raise unlimited money as an unofficial candidate right now, but with much less fear of competition from her own party.

"Somebody like Hillary, clearly a front-runner in the Democratic party, gets to sit back and watch Republicans take shots at each other," said 9NEWS Democratic political expert James Mejia.

"I think conventional thinking might lead one to believe that," replied 9NEWS Republican political expert Ryan Frazier. "But I believe that what this will do if Republicans go about it the right way is it will make sure that they're battle hardened."

After breaking for President Obama in 2012 and Republican Cory Gardner in 2014, all the presidential hopefuls have their sights on Colorado.

Expect a lot more talk about 2016 in our swing state before 2015 is through.

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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