Jeb Bush steps Into The Iowa Spotlight

The former Florida governor returned to Iowa for the first time in three years on Friday, making clear he’ll contest the early-voting state if he launches a presidential campaign, as expected.

Though GOP conservatives may initially be wary of the establishment favorite, he'll start trying to assuage those concerns and road test his 2016 message in very different settings and to very diverse groups. 

It’s a rapid fire weekend for the Bush scion as he tries to make a lasting impact. He appeared first on Friday at a fundraiser for vulnerable Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) in Urbandale.

On Saturday, Bush will speak alongside several other likely 2016 contenders at the first-ever Iowa Ag Summit. Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will all be grilled by agribusiness mogul and influential conservative donor Bruce Rastetter on the policy issues that are important to the state’s business-minded rural conservatives.

Later, Bush has arranged a closed-door event with key state activists at Jethro's BBQ 'n Jambalaya in Waukee, followed by a meet-and-greet with supporters at a Pizza Ranch in Cedar Rapids.

The events are an early opportunity for Bush to test his support among activists in a critical early-voting state known for its informed, engaged, and socially conservative primary electorate.

Ultimately, Bush doesn't have to win the first caucus state, given more friendly territory that awaits in New Hampshire and Florida. But he still has to perform well — and this weekend is just the beginning to laying that groundwork.

“This is a long game, particularly in Iowa, which rewards those who put in the most shoe leather,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “If Bush wants buzz, it’s going to require many, many more trips.”

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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