Simon Bridges has not "formally done the numbers" to gauge support for his bid to become deputy prime minister but feels there is strong support for his candidacy - confirmed this morning by Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.
"I have not formally done the numbers but... I have spoken to a whole raft of colleagues, and that has been influential in my decision. I wouldn't like to put a number on it but I feel good support and a sense of momentum about my candidacy,'' Bridges said.
Bridges is going head-to-head with Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett for the role of Deputy Prime Minister.
The two ministers declared their plans to stand for the role today. They are now seeking the support of Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who they have both endorsed to take over from John Key when a vote is held on Monday.
English refused to express any preference for either candidate today.
Bridges said while he felt he had "good support" from caucus, he recognised Paula Bennett was also a contender for deputy.
"The reality is that one of us has got to lose. I have a huge amount of time personally and professionally for Paula, we get on very well and that will continue whoever becomes deputy leader. I am sure whatever happens we will both have roles in the new government together."
He recognised similarities between himself and Bennett.
"We are both former Westies living in the upper North Island, both of Maori heritage."
However, he put his relative youth and the fact he brought a fresh approach having not previously been in the "kitchen cabinet".
Bridges has already gain support from Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller, who announced Bridges would be a good choice because he was young, dynamic and would complement Bill English well.
As for the obvious difference of gender, Bridges did not think that would come into play.
"Clearly we want to see gender diversity in government but not paint by numbers where we have quotas. I don't think it is a factor."
As for the popularity stakes, Bridges admires Bennett's reputation as the "gritty Westie".
"But ultimately the National Party caucus will make the decision and there is a real sense of desire for change and I provide that best, with Bill providing the stability."
He said he was happy to do the "silly" fun stuff, and doesn't mind the odd selfie.
"Hey, I love people. Obviously John Key had the real 'people' factor, and we were never going to replace John Key with a John Key and you want the best leader for the times. I think Bill is that, he is great with people on the campaign trail. "
He also promised to be a champion for the back bench.
"After eight years there is real sense from MPs that they want to know that they are going to be listened to and they have a voice around the cabinet table and as deputy leader I am going to be a champion for those back benchers."
He said outgoing Prime Minister John Key shook his hand after he made today's announcement and they planned to talk later in the week.
He said he spoke to English at length on Tuesday.
"I had a good conversation with Bill English yesterday afternoon, ran through what I was thinking and he appreciated me being straightforward about my intentions."
The "whole premise" of his bid was an English-Bridges leadership, he said and he had not even considered the possibility of the prime minister being anyone other than Bill English, despite Judith Collins and Jonathan Coleman also battling for the National leadership.
Bridges said the strength of their partnership was the contrast between them, which he recognised was an inverse of the John Key/ Bill English partnership.
"Bill's got the serious experience and ability that has been built up over many years and I think New Zealand needs that stability and strength. I will be bringing change and rejuvenation that the National Party needs in Parliament, and the freshness that the public want to see after we have been in office for 8 years.
"We are very different personalities, but the contrasts make us complementary."
Bridges hoped his role as MP in one of New Zealand's fastest growing regions would be a factor he hoped caucus would consider.
"I am proud to be MP for Tauranga because it's an area of great growth and dynamism.
"And it is part of my point of difference with Bill English because he represents a deep south rural area."
He assured his Bay electorate that if he was successful it would benefit the region.
"Having your local MP higher up food chain is always a good thing, because you have more influence and power to affect change.
His family was another positive strength, citing his wife Natalie Bridges, and sons Emlyn, 4, and Harry, 2.
"I have a hugely supportive wife and family, the kind of relationship I have with Natalie we talk things over a lot, she is great. "
Bennett could not be reached for comment but earlier told media that she had a "fantastic" relationship with English.
"I do see myself working really, really well with him ... He has an integrity in his core and a belief in this country that quite frankly I find awe-inspiring.
"We say the same thing, though we might say it a bit differently. He would say I say it louder and quicker."
She said her time in the Kitchen Cabinet had given her a "richness of experience" and that she would bring energy and enthusiasm to the deputy role.