Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said he will decide “in short order” whether to run for president. Photo: Reuters

Will he or won't he? Jeb Bush keeps even big donors in suspense

Son/brother of US presidents has Republicans anxious to know if he will run for the office in 2016

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has recently begun making more high-profile public appearances, leaving his big donors and allies tantalised by his promise to decide “in short order” whether to run for president.

Bush was scheduled yesterday to give the commencement address at the University of South Carolina during his second visit in recent months to the state that will host the first presidential primary in a southern state in the 2016 campaign season.

As the son of one president and brother of another, Bush has the power to transform the 2016 contest like no other Republican. He can tap into his family’s vast political network, and his campaign would attract strong support from major donors and widespread media attention.

But his supporters are struggling to understand what Bush’s actions mean and whether they can predict what his political intentions are.

Bush spent much of the recent midterm campaign out of the public eye. But the address at South Carolina will be his fourth high-profile speech in recent weeks. That includes an appearance before corporate executives in Washington, where he called for his party to embrace an immigration overhaul and to focus on governing. He also said would make the call on running for president “not that far out in the future.”

In an interview with ABC’s Miami affiliate WPLG-TV, Bush expressed confidence that he “would be a good president” and said he was in the process of writing an e-book about his time as governor and that it would come out in the spring. At about the same time, he will make public about 250,000 emails from his time in office.

Bush said going through the material has reminded him that “if you run with big ideas and then you’re true to those ideas, and get a chance to serve and implement them and do it with passion and conviction, you can move the needle. ... And that’s what we need right now in America,” he said in the interview that aired Sunday.

At the same time Bush has been expanding his private equity business, and advisers insist he’s not courting a political staff in Iowa and New Hampshire, even as other would-be candidates assemble their 2016 campaign teams in the early voting states. Those are signs he might not run.

About all anyone can say for certain is that, as Bush has said, he’s still thinking about it.

“He’s begun the journey. How long it will take him, I don’t know,” said Al Cardenas, a longtime Bush friend and former chairman of the American Conservative Union.