California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican, announced at a press conference that he will begin exploring a presidential bid in 2008.
The announcement from Hunter, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, surprised many involved in presidential politics. He has never expressed any intent to seek higher office. In a few weeks he is expected to win a 14th to the U.S. House.
Hunter, 54, visited New Hampshire a week ago to campaign alongside U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass. During his visit Hunter visited a BAE Systems facility and participated in a spaghetti dinner with Bass and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. His visit to the state, however, was very low key and did not receive any local press coverage.
The Associated Press speculated that one motivation to seeking the presidency could be the fact that Democrats may take the majority in the House, meaning Hunter would lose his position as chairman.
New Hampshire Congressman Jeb Bradley, also a Republican, serves under Hunter on the Armed Services Committee.