Friday, Jan. 16:
Following our report report below that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and told the mayor he is planning a visit to the city, Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she also received a call from Bush.
The news of the Bush call to Ayotte was first reported today by Paul Steinhauser of NH1News. The senator told Steinhauser that Bush said he “would be coming to New Hampshire.”
Ayotte told the NHJournal: “I appreciated Governor Bush’s call and told him he is always welcome in New Hampshire.”
Ayotte, as the New Hampshire Journal first reported on Monday, also received a call from 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who appears to be moving toward a third run. Ayotte endorsed Romney in the 2012 presidential primary campaign.
(Our earlier report follows.)
Thursday evening, Jan. 15:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has finally made at least one phone call to a prominent Republican in the first-primary state.
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas told the New Hampshire Journal Thursday night he received a phone call from the likely presidential contender at about 4:30 p.m. and the two spoke for about 30 minutes about “quite a few issues,” including health care.
Based on the conversation, Gatsas said, running for President “seems to be a on the front burner” for Bush. He said Bush told him he intends to come to the state, but offered no time frame for a visit.
“I welcomed him to New Hampshire,” Gatsas said, “and I said I’d certainly love to meet him when he comes. He said that he didn’t just want to meet in the office. He said, ‘Let’s do something interesting.’”
Gatsas said offered to show Bush the STEAM Ahead program, the collaborative effort of the city’s school district, the state university and community college systems and the business community to promote science, technology, engineering, arts and math in the schools.
Gatsas said it was the first time he had ever spoken with Bush and called the conversation “very cordial.”
Bush has not been to New Hampshire since 2004, and, according to Gatsas, “said, ‘Tell me something about Manchester.’ I told him we had a high school with 2,400 students and that we are a city in which 82 different languages are spoken. That seemed to set him back a bit.”
Gatsas said he mentioned to Bush the high cost of the “Cadillac tax” associated with the Affordable Care Act.
Bush’s call, of course, comes amid continued buzz about Mitt Romney moving toward a candidacy and came a day after Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul visited New Hampshire and held a private meeting with Gatsas at City Hall. Gatsas this evening tweeted a photo of himself on the telephone with Bush.