Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, speaks during a keynote session at the National Automobile Dealer Association conference in San Francisco, Calif. on Jan. 23, 2015.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Ryan Teague Beckwith and Tessa Berenson
February 10, 2015

Jeb Bush’s campaign to slim down the federal government appears to begin with himself.

At a fundraiser in Florida today, the former Florida governor admitted that he’s on the paleo diet, a new diet based on the idea that you should eat like early humans did before the invention of farming and animal husbandry. That means avoiding refined sugar, breads and beans and focusing more on eating meat and non-starchy vegetables.

“I’m really appreciative of the support that you’ve given me and I hope that you pray for my family, pray for me,” Bush joked. “Continue to pray that I stick on this paleo diet where my pants fall down. Perpetually starving to death apparently is the source of losing weight.”

Bush has joined a long line of recent presidential candidates who’ve lost weight while hoping to win a campaign.

• Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took up running and weightlifting and began eating less before the 2008 Republican primary, then later wrote a book, “Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork.”

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose struggle with weight led some helpful voters to send him 77 diet books, underwent gastric-band surgery in 2013 to help shed some pounds.

• Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hasn’t spoken publicly about any weight-loss regimens (other than a joke about Obama), but the Beltway publication Politico noted that he’s “looking trim these days.”

• Even 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was hardly overweight, was known to pull the skin off his fried chicken when eating out on the campaign trail.

The candidates aren’t just being vain. Running for president is a physically grueling experience and being in better shape can help. But no one put it better than former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who considered a run in 2012.

“If you see me losing 40 pounds, that means I’m either running or have cancer,” he said.

By that measure, Jeb Bush just officially declared his candidacy.

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