DES MOINES — After spending the morning in a perennial swing state and the afternoon in the first state to cast presidential ballots, questions immediately started to swirl about Apple's CEO Tim Cook possible political ambitions.
The Internet was all aflutter, asking the question: Is Cook seriously thinking of running for president?
Cook spent Thursday morning on the factory floor of an Ohio Apple supplier, where he "thanked employees and hinted at a prosperous future," the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Then, he toured the Des Moines metro area in the afternoon, holding a high-profile news conference, touring a high-tech suburban school and posing for selfies and shaking hands with customers and staff at the local Apple store.
Shortly after noon, Cook headlined a news conference with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican. Standing at the foot of the Iowa Capitol, the pair celebrated a $1.375 billion data center Apple plans to build in the Des Moines suburb of Waukee.
But any visit of high-profile political and business leaders can start the rumor mill in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.
It's not the first time the chief executive of America's most profitable company has sparked speculation about a political run.
In June, Bryan Menegus wrote that Cook "absolutely wants to run for president" on Gizmodo, a design, tech and science website. He pointed to Cook's platform-like talking points covering wealth inequality, education, global trade.
"He has his platform ready," Menegus wrote, "peppered with just enough heartfelt anecdotes and the occasional wink of contrition for his industry’s undeniable role in deepening global wealth inequality."
But Cook swatted down the Internet speculation.
"You've got to be kidding," Cook told The Des Moines Register on Thursday while visiting with employees and customers at an Apple store. "That must be a comedian or something."
He insisted he's not interested in a White House bid.
"I've got a full-time job. And I love Apple deeply," he said. "So no, there's no connection there at all."
He's the second tech mogul to raise eyebrows from political observers while visiting Iowa this summer.
In June, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg met with locals in rural Iowa and chatted up truck drivers at the Iowa 80 Truckstop. In January, the social media mogul said he was not seeking the White House.
Apple's Cook is no stranger to politics.
President Trump criticized the tech company during his campaign for manufacturing the iPhone and other products overseas.
Yet when announcing a $1 billion U.S. manufacturing fund in May, Cook seemed open to working with Trump's administration.
"I think with each administration in every country in the world, there are things you disagree and things you agree, and you look to find common ground and try to influence the things you don't," he said. "If you don't show up, I think that's the worst scenario because then you're quiet and this doesn't do your cause any good or your point of view any good."
During a college commencement speech in June, Cook mocked Trump's propensity for dropping controversial Tweets in the early morning hours.
Earlier this month, Cook clashed with Trump's handling of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va. He specifically took issue with the president's language blaming "both sides" for violence at a white supremacy rally.
“I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans,”