Hickenlooper Says ‘I’m Going To Run For President,’ Then Walks It Back

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks CPR News before an appearance at the annual World Food Award gathering in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday October 19, 2018.</p>

Posted: 10:00 a.m. | Updated 2:30 p.m.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday told a cafe worker in New Hampshire he's running for president.

Then he took it back. Kind of.

"I'm the governor of Colorado, and I'm going to run for president," he told a worker at the Roots Cafe in Hooksett, New Hampshire, with a small crowd gathered around.

"Oh my gosh. Really?" she said. "That's exciting."

"To be honest, I haven't made the final decision," Hickenlooper replied. "And if I say I'm absolutely doing it, then there are all kinds of legal ramifications. So, we'll say I'm leaning strongly."

The interaction was captured by a New Hampshire political reporter, Adam Sexton, on Twitter:

At Roots Cafe/Robie’s Country Store in Hooksett Gov. John Hickenlooper @hickforco says he’s running for President, then kinda walks it back #FITN #nhpolitics #WMUR pic.twitter.com/GuQ7GmU5uN

Just before Sexton started recording, he tweeted, Hickenlooper told the woman: “I’m John Hickenlooper and I’m running for President. You’re the first person in New Hampshire I’ve said that to.”

Brad Komar, director of the Giddy Up PAC, which Hickenlooper created in September to help himself support other candidates and raise his national profile, said the governor's announcement was in fact meant in jest.

"He was joking," Komar said. "He was talking to folks and they were laughing. And he clarified in the very next sentence."

When a candidate announces their intention to run publicly is important legally, because fundraising restrictions kick in once that happens. In the run-up to the 2016 election, the campaign finance watchdog Campaign Legal Center filed complaints against candidates including Jeb Bush. Like Hickenlooper, Bush had prematurely said he was running for president.

Komar said Hickenlooper has not violated any campaign finance laws.

"Absolutely not," Komar said. "Because he has not made a decision, no further filings or steps are required."

Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Hickenlooper's spokeswoman in the governor's office, Jacque Montgomery, said she didn't know anything about the video.

Hickenlooper has flirted with a presidential run for years. Just last month, he visited Iowa, which along with New Hampshire, is an important state in presidential primaries.

Update 2:30 p.m.

In an interview later Wednesday, Hickenlooper stated again that he hasn't made a decision. He expects that to happen in February or March.

2020 WATCH-NOW: After seemingly getting ahead of himself at a stop in NH, Colorado Gov. @hickforco clarifies his timetable for deciding on a White House run, telling me "we're going to wait until February or March to really make a final decision."#nhpolitics #FITN #copolitics pic.twitter.com/omIIWHkRu2