He might be in New Hampshire, but Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is rooting for Denver during Sunday's Super Bowl 50. The former Florida governor announced he'd be supporting the Broncos in the Super Bowl at Saturday's Republican presidential primary debate, which was hosted by ABC News at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Bush isn't cheering for Denver because he's a long-time fan of the team. His support is directly tied to his relationship with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who Bush says is a friend. But it's unlikely the pair are tossing around the pigskin or meeting for brunch like regular besties. Bush's relationship with Manning is more political than personal.
"Peyton Manning is supporting me," Bush told debate moderators David Muir and Martha Raddatz in New Hampshire when asked which team he hoped would win the Super Bowl. "And I'm for Denver."
As the game kicked off at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, Bush reiterated his support for Manning in a tweet that referred to the quarterback as his friend, causing many on Twitter to wonder just how close the athlete and the politician are. Have they known each other long? Do they plan Sunday Fundays together? Have they met each other's families?
Given Manning's history of donating to Bush's presidential campaign, the tweet is likely more of a strategic political shout out than a personal expression of comradery. Campaign contribution filings released in October of last year revealed Manning contributed $2,700 to Bush's presidential campaign, the maximum monetary amount an individual is legally allowed to donate to a candidate, according to the Denver Post. Manning is also reported to have donated to George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, the International Business Times reports. Prior to Manning's 2015 contribution to the Bush currently seeking the presidency, it's believed the professional athlete has donated more than $9,500 to various Republican candidates seeking either senate seats or a turn in the White House, ESPN reported.
The desire to see another Bush in the White House appears to run in the family. Peyton's younger brother Eli donated to Bush's campaign earlier in 2015, a CBS affiliate in Denver reported.
The Super Bowl isn't the first time Bush has name dropped Manning. In September, Bush tweeted that Manning was one of his top fantasy football league picks. Perhaps his pick lined up with Manning's campaign contribution?
Whether their friendship is personal or politically motivated, it's nice to see that, despite committing one socially awkward blunder after another, Bush has managed to make some friends on the campaign trail. And while the team he roots for at the Super Bowl is seriously unlikely to sway voters into supporting him at the polls (it's the issues that matter, people!), talking about football allows the Republican presidential candidate a rare opportunity to show voters his personality.