GOP's big election night fuels shift toward 2016

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Election Day/Night 2014
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GOP's big election night fuels shift toward 2016
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, celebrates with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., left, and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, at an election night party in Louisville, Ky.,Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. McConnell won a sixth term in Washington, with his eyes on the larger prize of GOP control of the Senate. The Kentucky Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent fighting off a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could determine the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 4: Supporters react to election results as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is declared the winner by cable news during a GOP victory party at the Marriott East in Louisville, Kentucky, Tuesday November 4, 2014. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a tight Senate race with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan. Grimes(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 4: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife Elaine Chao, address the crowd during a party for Kentucky Republicans in Louisville, Ky., November 4, 2014. McConnell defeated Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 4: U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) celebrates with supporters at the Puritan Conference Center November 4, 2014 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Shaheen beat former Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown in a tighty contested race. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett concedes the election to democratic candidate Tom Wolf, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pennsylvania Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf speaks after defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on election day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in York, Pa. Wolf’s victory came in a $73 million-plus race that broke Pennsylvania’s campaign spending record, and it sent Corbett to a historic defeat as the first governor in modern Pennsylvania political history to lose a re-election bid. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Angie Anderson smiles as she waits for election results at an election night event for Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in York, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley addresses supporters Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. Braley was defeated by State Sen. Joni Ernst. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA November 4: Newly elected Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst during their election night celebration party on November 4, 2014 in West Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA November 4: Newly elected Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst during their election night celebration party on November 4, 2014 in West Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - NOVEMBER 04: Supporters of U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and republican U.S. Senate elect in Arkansas hold signs and cheer during an election night gathering on November 4, 2014 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) defeated two-term incumbent democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - NOVEMBER 04: U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and republican U.S. Senate elect in Arkansas greets supporters during an election night gathering on November 4, 2014 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Cotton defeated two-term incumbent democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican Senate candidate and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, left, and his wife, Susan, celebrate with supporters at an election night rally in Charlotte, N.C., early Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 after defeating Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., waves to supporters before giving her concession speech during an election night rally in Greensboro, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), left, speaks to supporters as former Secretary of State of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts during a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Hagan is running for re-election against Republican candidate and North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Rep. Shelley Moore Capito speaks after winning the Senate seat, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, at the Embassy Suites in Charleston W.Va. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)
Republican Senator-elect Ben Sasse smiles as he holds his sleeping son Breck, in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, after winning the vote for the Nebraska senate seat of retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. Sasse was running against Democrat Dave Domina. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Republican Senator-elect Ben Sasse addresses supporters in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, after winning the vote for the Nebraska senate seat of retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. Sasse was running against Democrat Dave Domina. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
U.S. Senate elect Gary Peters stands with his wife Colleen, center, with retiring Sen. Carl Levin, Levin's wife Barbara Halpern-Levin, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, right, after Gary Peters addressed supporters in Detroit, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Peters defeated former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 4: A voter gestures as Senate Minority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) votes in the midterm elections at Bellarmine University November 4, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. McConnell is running in a tight race against opponent Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown gives a thumbs up as he calls voters on election day from the Republican field office, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Dover, N.H. Brown is trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Zoe Buck, 14 mos., looks up at her mother, Julie Buck, as she votes in a booth Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014, at the Alaska Zoo polling place in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Zoe Buck, 14 mos., holds on to the leg of her mother, Julie Buck, as Buck votes in a booth Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014, at the Alaska Zoo polling place in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Gunnar Nelson, 3, helps his dad cast his ballot for midterm elections Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Bradfordton, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Benjamin, 5, helps his dad Ben Hiltabrand cast his ballot for midterm elections Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Bradfordton, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Gunnar Nelson, 3, accompanies his dad while casting their ballot for midterm elections Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Bradfordton, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
A woman marks her ballot at a polling site inside P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep school, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to members of the media as his partner, Sandra Lee looks on after casting his ballot Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Mount Kisco, N.Y. A victory by Cuomo over Republican challenger Rob Astorino on Tuesday would make him the first Democratic governor since his father, Mario Cuomo, to win re-election in the nation's third-largest state. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., celebrates after registering his vote at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 in Alexandria, Va. Incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Warner looks to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate for a second term. He faces Republican Ed Gillespie. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
FORT MYERS, FL - NOVEMEBER 4: Texas Gov. Rick Perry stops by a Republican call center to rally campaign workers November 4, 2014 in Fort Myers, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is running in a tight race against opponent and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist the Democratic challenger. (Photo by Erik Kellar/Getty Images)
In this frame grab provided by Mary Burke's campaign Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke pose for a photo tweeted Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2014 by Burke's campaign after the two ran into each other at the airport in Green Bay, Wis. The two are locked in a close race for governor and have been rushing around the state in last-minute, get-out-the vote efforts. (AP Photo/Mary Burke campaign)
Firefighter Cheyne Hansen takes a sign out of storage at a municipal garage while helping election officials scramble to set up a last-minute polling place, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Camden, Maine. Sunday's snow storm knocked out power to much of the town, including the usual voting location at the public safety building, so officials decided to set up a polling place at a nearby church hall. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Poll worker Maria Soroka finishes setting up a polling station in a garage shortly before polls open for elections Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in San Diego. Those turning out to vote on Tuesday aren't the only ones having their say this election. More than 18.6 million Americans in 32 states voted early, either by mail or at early polling places. And millions more had their say in another way, by sitting this election out. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Guadalupe Portillo, a 102-year-old Lincoln Heights resident who became a U.S. citizen last year, poses for a photo with a band of mariachis before casting her vote for the the midterm elections at Montecito Community Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A handmade sign stuck in a snowbank on a rural road urges citizens to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Searsmont, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Twilla Eisele leaves the old Brown School after voting in the midterm elections Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in rural Wellsville, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A volunteer tries to grab the attention of passing motorists as he holds campaign signs in front of a polling site, on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Donna, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
I voted . LLAP http://t.co/DZBvf2wLrk
...And this is the last time we're expecting to see Wendy Davis until the polls close. http://t.co/nhkIJBFUp3
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie steps from the voting booth after voting Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Mendham Township, N.J. The popular Republican, who has been campaigning across the country for others, is not up for re-election this cycle. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 4: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks to the media after he casts his ballot on election day at Jefferson Elementary School, November 4, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Walker is running in a tight race against opponent Democratic candidate for Governor Mary Burke. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist , second from right, meets supporters at a phone bank during a campaign stop Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott leaves a phone bank after meeting with volunteers on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Miami. Scott is running against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, a former Republican Florida governor. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Former President Bill Clinton, left, and Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist wave to supporters at a campaign event, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. Crist, a former Florida Republican governor, is running against Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Former Florida Governor and now Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist walks out of th Total Image Hair Salon after making an election day phone bank visit to thank volunteers on November 4, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Crist is facing off against incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott in today's election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott hugs a supporter before meeting with volunteers at a phone bank on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Miami. Scott is running against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist ,a former Republican Florida governor. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Republican Senate candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst waves to supporters after casting her ballot in the general election, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Red Oak, Iowa. Ernst is running against Democrat U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Senate candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst casts her ballot in the general election, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Red Oak, Iowa. Ernst is running against Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Senate candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst casts her ballot in the general election, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Red Oak, Iowa. Ernst is running against Democrat U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., hugs former communications director Rich Masters as she arrives to eat breakfast with staff and to greet diners at Betsy's Pancake House on election day in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott , right, talks with volunteers at a phone bank on election day,Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Miami. Scott is running against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist ,a former Republican Florida governor. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., accompanied by his wife Franni, votes at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Minneapolis. Franken faces Republican businessman Mike McFadden in the election. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., right, votes with her grandson, AJ Bellabona, by her side at the Town Hall in Madbury, NH, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Shaheen, a Democrat seeking a second term, faces Republican Scott Brown, who is seeking to represent a second state. Brown moved to New Hampshire last year after losing his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) takes a family photo with husband Bill, and extended family outside Madbury Town Hall after casting her vote November 4, 2014 in Madbury, New Hampshire. Incumbent Shaheen is in a tight race with former Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
US Senator Mark Warner(R),D-VA, running for re-election to the Senate, speaks to reporters after casting his vote November 4, 2014 the Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy in Alexandria, Virginia, shortly after the polls opened for the midterm US elections. Warner is running against Republican challenger Ed Gillespie. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Alaska Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan exits a voting booth after marking his ballot, Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sullivan is challenging U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn visits with 86 year-old Julia Olsen before casting his ballot on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Chicago. Quinn is in a tight race with his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
JUST GOT DONE VOTING #ROCKTHEVOTE #TURNOUTFORWHAT
Are you voting today? I was the youngest person at my polling place by at least 30 years. If I'm reporting... http://t.co/fg2ZVLQgDy
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, smile after marking their ballots in the midterm election at the voting precinct at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The Kentucky Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, facing a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could shift the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. waits to turn in his ballot in the midterm election at the voting precinct at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The Kentucky Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, facing a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could shift the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
People vote at the polling place in Krishna Temple during election day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Utah's most watched race this year is the contest to replace longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah's 4th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., applauds while exiting a voting booth after casting his vote in the 2014 general election, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Newark, N.J. Booker is going up against Republican challenger Jeff Bell. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley holds a copy of the Dewey Defeats Truman photo as he speaks to supporters during a campaign stop, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Ottumwa, Iowa. Braley is running against Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Ballots envelopes sit in a bin prepared to give voters inside a polling center at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's office, in Boulder, Colo., on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Voter Adam Hensley casts his ballot at a polling station at Fugate's Bowling Alley in Hazard, Kentucky, U.S. on Tuesday, on Nov. 4, 2014. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is trailing her opponent Republican Mitch McConnell, 41 percent to 50 percent in the Kentucky Senate race, according to an NBC/Marist poll. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 4: Gordon Reed casts his ballot to vote in precinct 28 on November 4, 2014, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Americans head to the polls to cast their vote in the mid-term elections which will ultimately decide what party controls the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)
Stickers await voters after they cast their votes on Election Day at Glenwood Center in Greensboro, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., hugs former communications director Rich Masters as she arrives to eat breakfast with staff and to greet diners at Betsy's Pancake House on election day in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., smiles as she exits the polling booth after voting on election day in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Alaska Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan talks to reporters after he voted, Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sullivan is challenging U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A voter steps out of a booth after fulfilling his civic duty at a polling place inside the Delaware Art Museum, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Wilmington, Del. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons' bid for re-election to a full six-year term heads the list of races to be decided by Delaware voters on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
MT KISCO, NY - NOVEMBER 04: New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo (L), and his girlfriend, television personality Sandra Lee, arrive to vote during the 2014 general election at the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco on November 4, 2014 in Mt Kisco, New York. (Photo by Kenneth Gabrielsen/Getty Images)
KENNEBUNK, ME - NOVEMBER 4: Vicki Patterson of Kennebunk leaves a voting booth at Kennebunk Town Hall on Tuesday morning, November 4, 2014. It is the first year that Kennebunk opened its polls at 6 a.m. and Town Clerk Merton Brown said that 402 voters came through the polls in the first two hours. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
SOUTH PORTLAND, ME - November 4: Scarborough voter Larry Gray proudly displays his button. (Photo by John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie waits in line to vote Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Mendham Township, N.J. The popular Republican, who has been campaigning across the country for others, is not up for re-election this cycle. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Michigan wldSenate candidate Gary Peters addresses supporters in Detroit, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Peters defeated former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land for the seat of retiring Democrat Carl Levin. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - And so it begins.

Even before the polls had closed on Election Day, Republicans had shifted their focus to 2016 and the party's top target: Hillary Rodham Clinton. And by the end of the night, the GOP had claimed victories in Senate contests and governor races that will serve as a White House launch pad for the party's most ambitious.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has acknowledged presidential aspirations, won his third election in four years, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder earned second terms amidst White House whispers of their own.

The governors and their Senate allies won with the backing of high-profile Republicans thinking about the next election: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Speaking Wednesday, Christie said the Republican victories in governor's race across the country show that voters want leaders who will "get things done," rather than focus on ideology. He said the Republican rout was also fueled by an unpopular President Barack Obama.

"It's a reflection of the president's lack of leadership, his lack of leadership abroad, his lack of leadership at home," Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said. Christie made the rounds on the morning news shows, including NBC, ABC and Fox.

Rand Paul offered an analysis that pointed firmly to the next election.

"Tonight was really a referendum not only on the president's policies, but really a referendum on Hillary Clinton," Paul said in an interview with The Associated Press. The Democrats' midterm struggles, he said, represent "an epic failure of the Clintons."

Paul is among several leading Republicans who have spent months laying the groundwork for presidential campaigns, often while also helping GOP colleagues campaign in the midterms. But in the crowded Republican field, party insiders believe as many as three candidates may form presidential exploratory committees by the end of January - with several more joining them in the subsequent months.

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Rand Paul taunts Hillary Clinton on Election night
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GOP's big election night fuels shift toward 2016
U.S Senator Rand Paul taunted Hillary Clinton Tuesday by posting a series of photos of the former secretary of state alongside various Democratic 2014 candidates who lost their races. 
U.S Senator Rand Paul taunted Hillary Clinton Tuesday by posting a series of photos of the former secretary of state alongside various Democratic 2014 candidates who lost their races. 
U.S Senator Rand Paul taunted Hillary Clinton Tuesday by posting a series of photos of the former secretary of state alongside various Democratic 2014 candidates who lost their races. 
U.S Senator Rand Paul taunted Hillary Clinton Tuesday by posting a series of photos of the former secretary of state alongside various Democratic 2014 candidates who lost their races. 
U.S Senator Rand Paul taunted Hillary Clinton Tuesday by posting a series of photos of the former secretary of state alongside various Democratic 2014 candidates who lost their races. 
U.S Senator Rand Paul taunted Hillary Clinton Tuesday by posting a series of photos of the former secretary of state alongside various Democratic 2014 candidates who lost their races. 
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"They're going to need to get out there quickly," said Republican National Committee chief of staff Mike Shields, predicting a rash of presidential activity in November, December and January as candidates compete for the same pool of staff and donors. The RNC, he said, already has eight to 10 staffers focused exclusively on weakening Clinton's potential candidacy.

The overwhelming Democratic frontrunner should she run, Clinton is expected to announce her decision around the end of the year. The former secretary of state did not appear publicly Tuesday, but spent recent weeks campaigning extensively for Democrats in competitive races for Senate and governor, appearing at 45 political events during a two-month run through 19 states.

Republicans noted Clinton's ties to two of the biggest defeats for the party - Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor's loss to Republican Rep. Tom Cotton and Alison Lundergan Grimes' defeat to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Clinton headlined fundraisers for both and made appearances in Kentucky for Grimes.

In a difficult year for Democrats, some of the former first lady's allies prevailed, including Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania, who defeated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, who received help from Clinton during the campaign's final weekend.

But Tuesday belonged to the GOP.

"It will be beneficial not just to Republicans, it will be beneficial to the country," said Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm. "But it also sets the stage to demonstrate that Republicans can be trusted to be elected to the presidency in 2016."

Walker told The Associated Press minutes after his race was called that any decision about whether he will run for president "will have to wait long after" he works with Wisconsin lawmakers to pass the next state budget.

"The bottom line is people elected me to get the job done in Wisconsin," he said.

In Texas, three prospective presidential candidates gathered at a Republican celebration in downtown Austin.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is weighing a second presidential bid, joined former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as his eldest son, George P. Bush, was elected Texas land commissioner. The elder Bush, a leading contender should he run, did not speak publicly Tuesday night. At the same event, Cruz said the 2016 field would begin forming as soon as January.

"In all likelihood we will see a crowded field next year. And that's a good and healthy thing," Cruz said. "The test that I think Republican primary voters should apply is who is standing up and leading."

New Jersey Gov. Christie spent much of the last year helping to reelect GOP governors - while courting donors and key activists - as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. His organization had a big night, winning seats previously held by Democrats in Maryland, Massachusetts, Arkansas and Illinois.

Christie's midterm effort, he said, "helps to get me and Mary Pat and our children used to what it would be like to be on the road so much. And that's a huge part of deciding whether you want to run for president or not - it's the effect it has on your family."

"I know people don't believe this, but we have not had the time, been together enough, to talk about it in any kind of serious way," Christie said while campaigning Monday in New Hampshire. "But we will."

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