Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's announcement today that he will "actively explore" a 2016 presidential bid unleashed a wave of speculation about how his action might affect other Republicans – Gov. Christie included.
Christie said earlier this month that he wouldn't make a decision on running in 2016 until "well into" next year. But some donors and political consultants have told news outlets today that Bush's move could pressure Christie to speed up his timetable, in part due to the prospect the two would compete for similar donors.
A top Christie backer, however, dismissed that idea. "In fact, if I were Christie, I'd let it play out a bit and learn a few things," Kenneth Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, said in a phone interview today.
"Clearly, we're getting closer to the day when Christie's going to have to declare, but who knows when that is, a month, two months, three," Langone said. "I would think in the next 90 days, we're going to need some definition."
In his announcement, posted on Facebook, Bush said he planned to form a federal leadership political action committee in January. Such a committee – which Bush said "will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America" – allows money to be raised for items like travel, though it can't be used to support a candidate's campaign activities.
Christie hasn't announced similar plans. In the run-up to November's midterm elections, the governor was traveling the country and raising money for other candidates as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Langone, who has said he will commit himself to raising money for Christie if the governor decides to run for president, said today that a possible Bush candidacy wouldn't prevent Christie from securing donations.
He added that he's a fan of Bush: "If Jeb Bush got the nomination, I'd vote for him and work for him," Langone said. "But look, the American people are too sensible to say, he's announcing he's going to have a ... committee, that's it, I'm done, where do I send the check? It doesn't work that way."