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Gov. John Hickenlooper says he'll run for president, then quickly backtracks

"I'm the governor of Colorado and I'm running for president," Gov. John Hickenlooper told a woman at a local diner Wednesday morning in Hooksett, New Hampshire.

Colorado's Governor John Hickenlooper was briefly running for President Wednesday morning.

At a café in New Hampshire, an employee asked him, "Are you running for president?"

"I am governor of Colorado, I'm going to run for president," Hickenlooper, a Democrat, responded.

The exchange was captured in a tweet video by Adam Sexton, political director with WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H.

"I don't think I've ever said it before," Hickenlooper is heard saying.

He gets congratulations and handshakes, but then seven seconds later puts on asterisk on his comment.

"To be honest, to be honest, I haven't made the final decision," said Hickenlooper. "And if I say I'm absolutely going to, then there are all kind of legal ramifications. So, let's say I’m leaning strongly."

In September, Hickenlooper formed a leadership PAC, another step that seemingly signaled a presidential run without formally running for president. The leadership PAC "Giddy Up" has already raised $322,000, as of Oct. 17, according to federal campaign finance records.

"The governor makes clear in the video that he is joking and in his next sentence that he has not made a decision yet. If he had, his wife would have been the first to know. He is in New Hampshire to support 2018 candidates up and down the ballot," said Brad Komar, director of the Giddy Up PAC, said in response to the video.

However, in a separate video posted later Wednesday, Hickenlooper indicates his wife does know. The governor mentioned both he and his wife are excited about the idea to another reporter, but he wouldn't make a final decision until February or March:

"Most of the Democratic candidates are from the East Coast or the West Coast. There are not too many from the middle of the country, and not so many that have been a mayor, and been a governor, and started a business. So we'll see, I think it's an interesting time to be in politics and [look] at some of these issues from a national point of view ... I think my wife might be more excited than I am. She's a businesswoman, has her own career, but she loves this country, loves politics, and she's ready to go, I think."

Hickenlooper can use the Giddy Up money to support candidates in other states, travel to support those candidates and develop policy ideas and messaging. He cannot legally use the money to run for president, or for state candidates in Colorado, but he can use it to help Colorado candidates running for federal offices.

For instance, he can't contribute to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis' campaign, but he has used the PAC money to contribute $1,000 to Democratic candidate Jason Crow in Congressional District Six and $1,000 to Democratic candidate Diane Mitsch Bush in Congressional District Six. Crow is trying to unseat Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. Mitsch Bush is challenging Republican Rep. Scott Tipton.

The next pre-Presidential campaign step for Hickenlooper would be an exploratory committee, also known as "testing the waters."

Money contributed to a "testing the waters" fund can pay for polling and travel to determine if they are a viable candidate. These types of campaign funds do not have to be registered with the Federal Election Commission, but if the person does run for president, those contributions would have to be made public.

In 2015, Republican Jeb Bush told reporters, "I'm running for President in 2016" before he had officially filed to run for President. The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed complaints with the FEC against Bush and three other candidates over concerns they were skirting campaign finance laws on how much money they can raise and other restrictions that would apply based on the person's candidate status.

Contributions to candidates for President, or someone who has an exploratory committee, would be limited to $2,700 per individual.

Candidates are not allowed to raise money for PACs, which don't have limits on contributions.

So, when Hickenlooper said, "If I say I'm absolutely going to, then there are all kind of legal ramifications," he's likely talking about campaign finance violation concerns.

"The governor hasn't made a decision yet, and so we don't feel that we need to file any additional paperwork or create an additional committee," Komar said.