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How much money does Jeb Bush need to run for president?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush greets people after speaking at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Darren McCollester, Getty Images

Last Updated Apr 27, 2015 1:07 PM EDT

If Jeb Bush runs for president, he thinks he can spend less than President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney did on their 2012 campaigns.

"I don't think you need to spend a billion dollars to be elected president of the United States in 2016," the former Florida governor said during an event in South Beach Sunday, according to the Miami Herald. "I don't think it's necessary if you run the right kind of campaign. You don't need to have these massive amounts of money spent, but in order to be competitive, you have to raise a significant amount of money to build a first-rate policy team and a great campaign."

But, he added, if he does decide to run, "I'm going to make every effort to reach thousands and thousands of people and ask them to contribute."

It's easy for Bush, a prolific fundraiser, to predict his potential campaign could get by with less cash. Even without running, he has already broken fundraising records with his super PAC, Right to Rise. He told a group of about 350 donors to the super PAC Sunday evening that they had raised more money in the first 100 days of existence than other GOP operation in recent memory, an official with the PAC told CBS News. While this may be true, super PACs have only existed since 2010, and Bush is using his super PAC in new ways not used by any candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

Senior Republicans told the paper that the group is on track to collect more than $100 million by the end of May. That would satisfy the reported goal of $100 million his team set for their first three months of fundraising.

By delaying a formal presidential bid, Bush can still maintain control of his super PAC and solicit unlimited amounts of money from donors, including corporate sources. Once he announces, he will have to hand control of the super PAC over to someone not working for the campaign, and can only explicitly ask donors for $2,700 per donor per election (the primary and general are considered separate).

"What he's trying to do is maximize his money and maximize the amount of money he can take in from individual contributors," Lawrence Noble, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center and a former FEC general counsel, told CBS News in January after Bush established the super PAC.

Even once the super PAC becomes a separate entity, Bush is reportedly planning to delegate to that group many tasks that would normally fall to a campaign operation, including conducting advertising, running phone banks, and coordinating get-out-the-vote efforts.

CBS News Correspondent Julianna Goldman contributed to this report.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.