With speculation intensifying that President Joe Biden will not seek a second term, Gov. Phil Murphy is raising his profile for a potential White House bid.

A $2 million ad blitz is underway touting Murphy's accomplishments and promoting his progressive agenda. The ads are being paid for by the group Stronger Fairer Forward. The group is chaired by Murphy's wife, Tammy, and run by former aide Dan Bryan.

Stronger Fairer Forward is one of two groups launched in February with the goal of raising Murphy's profile. One is a political action committee and the other is a registered non-profit. The groups do not have to report where their funding comes from.

Murphy cannot seek another term as governor and these types of organizations are often a precursor to a national run. They could fund advertising and pay for national travel.

When the formation of the groups were announced, Murphy downplayed any national aspirations. He said it was his belief that Biden would seek another term, but he did not rule out a possible White House bid if the president decided not to seek a second term.

Speculation about Murphy's desire to run intensified after his inaugural address in January when he derided the gridlock in Washington and proclaimed, "If you want to understand what America can be, come to New Jersey."

Murphy could wedge himself into a tight Democratic field if Biden does not seek reelection. Party enthusiasm for Vice President Kamala Harris is thin and other potential candidates are polling in single digits.

Most New Jerseyans don't want to see Murphy launch a national campaign.

Despite having relatively strong approval ratings in the latest Monmouth University Poll, the majority of those surveyed do not believe he would make a good president.

Murphy has a job approval rating of 55%, but 56% think he is the wrong choice for the White House.

Even though Murphy seems to be trying to raise his national profile, only 5% in the Monmouth survey released in April think he actually would run.

It is possible that Murphy is trying to raise his profile in New Jersey as he and the Legislature work on a new budget.

Murphy and legislative leaders have agreed on a cornerstone of a new spending plan by announcing increased property tax rebates for 2 million New Jersey residents, but there are many details that still need to be worked out.

However, the ads are scheduled to run through the end of July, well past the budget deadline.

The ads also tout "the American Dream," and how Murphy claims he has rekindled the hope of living that dream in New Jersey.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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