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Gwen’s Take: 3,2,1 … The 2016 presidential campaign starts now

Close readers of this blog have become used to my warring impulses.

I am a political junkie who thinks it is possible to talk too much about politics.

I am a serious news consumer who can also spend way too much time deconstructing “The Good Wife.”

I like to sing, but mostly in the car.

But I digress.

It’s 2015 people, and all resistance is futile. It is time to fully embrace the next presidential election.

I know there are State of the Union addresses to cover and federal budgets to dissect. But, come on, what could be more fun than tracking what Mike Huckabee has to say about Beyonce, or following Paul Ryan’s shots at Chris Christie? Or watching Rand Paul take shots at everybody?

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report calls it spring training, and she’s right. This is when the wannabes step into the sunshine, test their arms and figure out how fast they can run the bases.

The best part is the improbability. There is nothing like a long-shot candidacy to grab and hold one’s attention. A small-state governor was not supposed to win the presidency in 1992. A first-term African American Senator whose middle name is Hussein was certainly not supposed to beat the field in 2008. And even candidates who missed the brass ring were fun to watch. Jesse Jackson, anyone?

So now it’s time to start paying attention.

The field basically breaks down into two categories — the familiar names who have Been Here Before; and the new faces who could become the Next New Thing.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Huckabee and Hillary Clinton have run this track before. This gives them the advantage of knowing what is required in terms of money, organization and stamina to make it through primary season.

Chris Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Martin O’Malley may think they know what it takes. But they don’t. They couldn’t.

Jeb Bush is the one major hopeful who falls kind of between these two categories. He’s never run for president before, but both his father and his brother have BEEN president, so he knows the cauldron well.

If it seems like this is starting early, let me take you back to the last time there was no presidential incumbent on the ticket. Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama had all formally or informally jumped into the race in the chilly winter of 2007, in part to scare off others, and in part to jumpstart the onerous process of raising a jillion dollars.

“Mitt Romney goes to donors and says, I want to be president,” The Washington Post’s Nia Malika Henderson told me on the NewsHour. “Marco Rubio is going to get his gang together down in Florida next weekend to figure out where they are and what his viability is going forward. It really is about raising, what, a billion dollars you have got to raise. And you have got to make the case to these donors that you are a worthy investment. And so that’s what’s going on right now, the invisible primary.”

Invisible to you perhaps, but almost blindingly obvious to us.

See you on the trail.

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