2016 campaign checklist: They've all been so busy
WASHINGTON (AP) - The 2016 presidential campaign is well underway. Not in name, so much, but rather in the deeds of more than a dozen people who might run.
They've been busy plugging holes in resumes, getting known on TV, networking with activists and party luminaries, taking early steps to build campaign organizations and much more. Most are methodically ticking off items on what could be called the presidential prep checklist, and they've picked up that pace since The Associated Press last took a broad look at who's doing what to advance their high ambitions.
The main players: For the Democrats, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; and for the Republicans, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
An updated look at the field in motion as an even more demanding political year approaches:
Non-denial denial: "Oh, we'll talk about that." With a chuckle, to Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli in November 2013 when asked about running in 2016.
Book: Not lately. Could be time for a sequel to "Promises to Keep" from '07, though his position as vice president might constrain him.
Iowa: Yes, spoke at Sen. Tom Harkin's fall 2013 steak-fry fundraiser. Raised money for Iowa congressional candidate Jim Mowrer. Schmoozed with Iowa power brokers during 2013 inauguration week in Washington. (Poor Iowa caucuses showing knocked him out of the 2008 presidential race.)
New Hampshire: Not since 2012 campaign. Canceled planned 2013 fundraiser for New Hampshire's Democratic governor due to son's health scare.
South Carolina: Yes. Headlined annual fundraising dinner in May for South Carolina Democratic Party, a speculation stoker in big primary state. Appeared at prominent South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn's annual fish fry. Spent Easter weekend this year with wife at South Carolina's Kiawah Island, near Charleston. Vacationed there for a week in 2009 as well.
Foreign travel: You bet. Frequent foreign travel and plenty of foreign policy experience by former chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during President Barack Obama's first term. Already been to India, Singapore, Rome, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, and more. In December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea, served as Obama's point man in dispute over China's contentious new air-defense zone.
Meet the money: Regularly schmoozes contributors at private receptions. Helping Democratic campaign committees raise money from big-dollar donors before 2014 midterms.
Networking: And how. Meets regularly with former Senate colleagues and congressional Democrats. Cozied up to important players during inauguration week, including reception for activists from New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina among other states; dropped into the Iowa ball, met environmental and Hispanic activists. Gives keynote speeches at annual state Democratic Party dinners across the country. Making calls for House Democrats' campaign organization, assisting in recruitment of candidates to run next year. Speech to South Carolina Dems. Campaigned for new Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, new Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. Speaks regularly to special interests. One week in May: Monday, spoke to religious leaders at the White House; Tuesday, voting rights talk with African Americans; Wednesday, immigration talk with Asian Americans; Thursday, meeting with firefighters about Boston bombing. And on the fifth day, he rested.
Hog the TV: No, not lately.
Do something: Point man on gun control, which failed. Lots with foreign policy. Leading administration's efforts to engage more with Latin America. Called on to lobby former Senate colleagues on Syria, Iran. Visiting ports across the U.S. to promote infrastructure and exports. Point man on Violence Against Women Act. Credited with pushing Obama to embrace gay marriage. Called upon by the administration to be a go-between with the Senate. Negotiated fiscal cliff deal.
Take a stand: Guns. Violence against women. Gay rights. Veterans. He's touched on everything as senator and vice president.
Baggage: Age, flubs, fibs. White-haired Biden would be 74 by Inauguration Day 2017. His deflection: unfailing enthusiasm and a busy schedule. Habit of ad-libbing and wandering off reservation is a turnoff to some, endearing to others. Biden's response: "I am who I am." A tendency to embellish a good story dates to first run for president, when he appropriated material from the life story of a British politician, sometimes without attribution. Despite policy gravitas, Pew Research polling recently found public perceives him as not so bright, clownish. Those who like him in polling say he's honest and good. A new book reveals Obama's aides considered replacing Biden with Clinton on the 2012 ticket, but Obama has said he never would have entertained it.
Shadow campaign: Tapped longtime adviser and former lobbyist Steve Ricchetti to be his new chief of staff starting in December 2013. Maintains close contact with his political advisers past and present. Creating a shadow campaign would be difficult too soon in Obama's second term as the public perception could hasten Obama's lame-duck status.
Social media: His office actively promotes his public appearances on Twitter, including more humanizing moments like a shared train ride with Whoopi Goldberg and, on his 71st birthday, a photo of him as a young boy. Not active on Facebook, occasionally contributes to his office's Twitter account. Narrates "Being Biden" photo series showing him behind the scenes.
(Contributor: Josh Lederman)
Non-denial denial: "I'm not in any hurry. I think it's a serious decision, not to be made lightly, but it's also not one that has to be made soon." - To New York magazine, September 2013.
Book: Yes - again. Previously published author has a new book expected in 2014.
Iowa: No. Steering clear of the early caucus/primary states. (Third-place shocker in 2008 caucuses won by Obama portended scrappy nomination fight to come.)
New Hampshire: No. (Beat Obama in 2008 primary to regain traction in nomination contest.)
South Carolina: No. (Distant second to Obama in 2008 primary.)
Foreign travel: Do birds fly? Former secretary of state doesn't need to globe-trot any time soon. Spent 401 days overseas, flying nearly 1 million miles. Limited overseas travel in 2013: honorary degree at St. Andrews University in Scotland in September; trip to London in October for a diplomacy award and a fundraising concert for the family's foundation.
Meet the money: No, but can tap deep well of Democratic and activist money. Supporters launched a super PAC, Ready for Hillary, in January to support another presidential run and a constellation of outside groups including super PACs Priorities USA and American Bridge could help a potential campaign. Prominent bundlers such as Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban have signaled support. Clinton worked fundraising circuit to help McAuliffe's campaign for governor in Virginia and Bill de Blasio's mayoral bid in New York City. Both won.
Networking: A steady presence now on the speaking circuit, delivering paid speeches to industry groups and conferences and appearing before a number of groups with ties to the Democratic coalition.
Hog the TV: No. Clinton has not sat for any televised interviews since conducting a round of exit interviews when she departed the State Department. One of those included a joint appearance with Obama on CBS's "60 Minutes." NBC dropped a planned miniseries about her under pressure both from her allies and from Republicans.
Do something: For now, a record to be judged on as secretary of state, senator and first lady. Through the Clinton Foundation, she has launched an initiative to help children's health and a separate partnership to promote women and girls.
Take a stand: You name it, she's had something to say about it in her varied political life. Recent speeches have focused on the economy, housing, opportunities for women and finance. Obama objected to her proposed individual mandate for health insurance in 2008 campaign - a contentious idea then and now - only to adopt it in office. She backed Obama's threats to use force in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and said it was the reason Russia urged Syria to get rid of its stockpile. She has said the health care overhaul should be implemented and improved where necessary.
Baggage: Age; Benghazi, Libya; politics. She would be 69 on Inauguration Day. She lived through some grueling days as secretary of state. She counters with a serious spunk factor and memories of her energetic schedule as top diplomat. Republicans would love to pin blame on her for last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. She does just fine politically, until she gets political. Then her old enemies come out of the woodwork.
Shadow campaign: Keeping a traditional shadow campaign at arm's length for now. Ready for Hillary super PAC has received endorsements from Democrats such as Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; several old Clinton hands are advising the group, including Craig T. Smith and Harold Ickes. The group is encouraging Clinton to run and trying to lay a foundation of grassroots supporters for a campaign if Clinton chooses to pursue one.
Social media: Nearly 1 million followers on Twitter, her preferred social media outlet. Tweeted congrats to Diana Nyad after her record-setting Cuba-to-Florida swim: "Flying to 112 countries is a lot until you consider swimming between 2. Feels like I swim with sharks - but you actually did it! Congrats!"