Here’s your guide to every major 2016 presidential contender

2014 is a year of auditioning, positioning, networking and just plain hard work for people who might run for president in 2016. There’s plenty to do, and the pace has quickened since The Associated Press last took a broad look at preparations for a potential campaign. Here’s a look at 14 prospective candidates.

A woman casts her vote for president in Los Angeles in 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar/Getty Images

A woman casts her vote for president in Los Angeles in 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar/Getty Images


Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former Secretary of State speaks during an event at the University of Miami's Bank United Center on February 26, 2014 in Coral Gables, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former Secretary of State speaks during an event at the University of Miami’s Bank United Center on February 26, 2014 in Coral Gables, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “I haven’t made up my mind. I really have not. I will look carefully at what I think I can do and make that decision sometime next year.” — ABC, December 2013. “Give me your name and number…. Obviously, thinking about all kinds of decisions.” — Coyly deflecting questions from a college student who asked her about running, March 22, Tempe, Ariz.

Book: Yes, again. Previously published author has a new book coming in 2014, with a national book tour to follow.

Visited Iowa: No. Steering clear of the early caucus/primary states. But Ready for Hillary, a super political action committee laying national groundwork for her potential candidacy, now is mobilizing for her in the state. The group dispatched 250 volunteers to Democratic county conventions to drum up support for her. (Third-place shocker in 2008 caucuses won by Obama portended scrappy nomination fight to come.)

Visited New Hampshire: No. But Ready for Hillary is already working for her there. The group courted New Hampshire local officials, union leaders and the state Democratic chairman in a January visit and returned in March for a series of meetings with state lawmakers and organizers. (She 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. Attended memorial services for Nelson Mandela in South Africa in December. Two recent speeches in Canada.

Meet the money: Can tap deep well of Democratic and activist money. She’s been raising money for Clinton foundation. Supporters launched a super PAC, Ready for Hillary, to support another presidential run, raising more than $4 million in 2013. Priorities USA said in January 2014 it will back Clinton if she runs, a sign that senior members of President Barack Obama’s campaign team are lining up behind her. Prominent bundlers such as Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban have signaled support. Clinton worked fundraising circuit to help Terry 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, including stops on college campuses in Miami, Los Angeles and Tempe. Accepted lifetime achievement award from American Jewish Congress in March. Crossed paths again with potential GOP rival Jeb Bush at education event in Texas in March, six months after he awarded her the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia in his capacity as chairman of the National Constitution Center.

Hog the TV: No. But late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed her at Arizona State University in March, when she called for a mass movement against global warming. Largely avoided TV interviews in 2013, giving a few when she departed the State Department, then sitting down with ABC’s Barbara Walters, who named her the “Most Fascinating Person of 2013” in December. She appeared jointly with Obama on CBS’s “60 Minutes” early in 2013. 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 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. Post-Cabinet speeches have focused on the economy, housing, finance and opportunities for women. 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. After Russia sent troops to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Clinton likened Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. She has said the health care overhaul should be implemented and improved.

Baggage: Age, Benghazi, and the politics of being a Clinton. She would be 69 on Inauguration Day in 2017. She lived through some grueling days as secretary of state. She counters with recollections of her energetic schedule as top diplomat. Republicans would love to pin blame on her for the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. She does just fine politically, until she gets political. Then her old enemies come out of the woodwork. In long-confidential documents released from Bill Clinton’s administration, advisers urged her to “be real” and “humanize” herself, revealing concerns about her authenticity as a public figure.

Shadow campaign: Keeping a traditional shadow campaign at arm’s length for now but she’s got a steamroller behind her. 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 laying a foundation of grassroots supporters for a campaign if Clinton chooses to pursue one.

Social media: About 1.2 million followers on Twitter, her preferred social media outlet. In a tweet on Super Bowl Sunday, Clinton needled Fox News, the cable network that has often been critical of Democrats. “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked!” Clinton’s quip was retweeted more than 57,000 times.

– Ken Thomas


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Getty Images

Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “I’m sorry, I’m losing you. We have a technical difficulty. I’m running for governor of the state of New York.” — Pretending not to hear a question about his presidential intentions. Fox Business Network, Feb. 25.

Writing a book: Yes. Expected in 2014 from HarperCollins. “Profound moments” of the New York governor’s first term in office plus “a full and frank account” of his private life.

Iowa visits: No. Has stayed close to home, avoids most travel that would feed speculation of campaign ambitions.

New Hampshire: No.

South Carolina: No.

Foreign travel: Yes, but not lately. Visited Israel twice in 2002 when running for Democratic nomination for governor.

Meet the money: Raised $33 million so far for 2014 re-election with support from New York City developers and financiers. Attended December 2011 California fundraiser held for his 2014 governor’s re-election campaign by advocates of same-sex marriage. Cocktails, $1,000 a ticket’ dinner; $12,500 a ticket. Facing little-known opposition in his fall re-election race from Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Networking: Sparingly. Rarely leaves New York. Did not appear at 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., choosing instead to hold a side event for New York delegates at a Charlotte hotel. Skipped last year’s national governors meeting.

Hog the TV: No, mostly avoids it, prefers radio. February appearance on Fox Business was rare exception. After being named sexiest 55-year-old by People magazine in November, called into the CNN show hosted by his brother, Chris, to rub it in. Asked why he doesn’t go on Sunday news shows, he told The New York Times, “Then you would say I’m running for president.”

Do something: 2014 budget proposal calls for tax cuts for businesses, homeowners and renters. In 2013, pushed through nation’s first gun-control law after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. Led New York’s effort to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. Minimum wage boost, on-time budgets, teacher standards.

Take a national stand: Environmentalists nationally and the energy industry are closely watching his pending decision whether to allow fracking in upstate New York counties near the Pennsylvania line.

Baggage: Trumpets “remarkable string of accomplishments” in the state but record-high poll numbers fell in late February to about 60 percent favorable opinion, lowest level since he was elected. State economy grew at slower pace than national rate in 2012. Deflection: “I’m focusing on running this state and doing it the best I can. And that’s all there is to that.” Cuomo’s first marriage to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, ended in a public and bitter divorce in 2005. Cuomo lives with Food Network star Sandra Lee.

Shadow campaign: Overshadowed by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s shadow campaign. Considered a likely contender if Clinton ends up not running.

Social media: Few if any personal tweets; Facebook also generated primarily by staff.
– Michael Virtanen


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes the stage during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes the stage during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “I can honestly tell you that I don’t know what I’m going to do.” — Standard disclaimer. “There’s a time to make a decision. You shouldn’t make it too early, you shouldn’t make it too late. There’s a time. There’s a window. And this is not the time for me. This is the time to show a little self-restraint.” — November 2013, CNN.

Book: Yes. Co-authored “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” which he promoted on all five Sunday morning TV talk shows on March 10, 2013.

Iowa visits: Yes, in 2012, economic development meeting in Sioux City, but he’s not making splashy visits to early-voting states yet, in keeping with his views about showing restraint.

New Hampshire: No record of recent visits.

South Carolina: Yes, in April 2012. Spoke to Empower S.C. Education Reform meeting.

Foreign travel: Yes, a few times a year. Several visits to Israel, as governor (1999) and since then (private visit 2007). Also went there as Florida commerce secretary in 1980s.

Meet the money: Yes, he’s got longtime connections on Wall Street and beyond — as a Bush, a former governor and now a senior adviser at the financial firm Barclays. Flew to Las Vegas in March to meet GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson and address senior members of Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson’s company airport hangar. In February, his short video for a GOP fundraiser at Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate was a bigger hit than Sen. Ted Cruz’s keynote speech. Party in summer of 2013 for his immigration book at home of Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and a leading Republican bundler.

Networking: Picking up the pace this year. Recent travels to Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Skipped Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after giving keynote speech to the influential group a year earlier. 2013 Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting. Speeches and meetings on education policy. Told Kemp Foundation in October he considers the U.S. a “center-right country” and conservatives must “get outside our comfort zone” to govern effectively.

Hog the TV: No. Blanketed the Sunday talk shows in March 2013 to plug his book on immigration, but not many appearances since.

Do something: Staked a position on immigration to the right of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and some others. Strong job approval ratings as governor of Florida, a swing state. Revamped state educational system, cut taxes, managed state through several hurricanes.

Take a stand: Most prominently, an advocate for an education overhaul, including publicly financed private school vouchers and stricter accountability standards for teachers and students. A champion of “Common Core” academic standards developed by a bipartisan group of governors and state school officials and later promoted by Obama administration. Many conservatives — and some potential GOP rivals — see them as a federal takeover of local classrooms. Also supports immigration overhaul.

Baggage: The Bush factor. Jeb is yet another Bush, which is a plus for many people but a huge negative for a big slice of the electorate that either didn’t like Bush 41 and/or 43, or simply objects to the whole idea of a political dynasty. Even Barbara Bush, when asked about son Jeb running, said last April, “We’ve had enough Bushes.” Not much he can do to deflect this, other than show he’s his own man, and keep 41 and 43 at a distance. “It’s an issue for sure,” he acknowledges. Also, his Common Cause advocacy and position on immigration put him at odds with some on the right.

Shadow campaign: He’s a Bush — he’s got tons of connections. Sally Bradshaw, his chief of staff when he was governor, is his go-to political person.

Social media: Tweets and posts many Wall Street Journal stories, education thoughts and some Bush family doings. Tweeted in November 2013: “Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.” Fact-checkers pointed out the U.S. Embassy in Rome was relocating, not closing.

– Thomas Beaumont


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responds to a question from a shore resident during a Town Hall meeting in Belmar, NJ, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responds to a question from a shore resident during a Town Hall meeting in Belmar, NJ, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg News

Nondenial denial: “I am enormously flattered that folks would talk about me in my party as someone who they think could be a candidate for president. But I am absolutely in — nowhere near that consideration process.” Jan. 9 news conference addressing the scandal over Fort Lee, N.J., traffic tie-ups.

Book: Not yet, and it’s a notable gap, but there’s time.

Iowa visits: Yes, in 2012. Also in 2011 and 2012 to help U.S. Rep. Steve King raise money. More politically driven travel is clearly in the cards now that he’s chairman of Republican Governors Association for 2014 election year.

New Hampshire: Yes, three times in the 2012 campaign, endorsing Mitt Romney in a visit to the state, campaigning for him there in January 2012 and returning in September for Ovide Lamontagne, GOP nominee who lost governor’s race. Schmoozed with New Hampshire delegates at GOP convention. The day after his November 2013 re-election victory in New Jersey, the New Hampshire GOP announced the hiring of Christie’s regional director, Matt Mowers, as its executive director.

South Carolina: Yes, visited in 2012 to help Romney raise money.

Foreign travel: Yes. First official trip overseas was in July 2012, to Israel, then Jordan. Visited Western Wall, met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him Israel and New Jersey are similar in size and population but New Jersey probably has “better neighbors.”

Meet the money: Yes, became RGA chairman in November 2013, giving him regular access to GOP’s top national donors. In that capacity, has already met donors in Idaho, Vermont, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts and Utah. Was among a handful of high-profile Republicans to meet with super donor Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas at his resort casino in late March. Went on an aggressive national fundraising tour in early 2013, courting GOP donors in New York City, the Washington area, Boston and Miami. Also raised money in Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas and California, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted an event at his Palo Alto home.

Networking: Yes, broad outreach now as chairman of GOP governors group, a position that offers regular face time with top party officials and donors nationwide. March speech pleased activists at Conservative Political Action Conference, a group that did not invite him to speak last year because he’d been too chummy with President Barack Obama in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath. Addressed Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting in Las Vegas, spending a full day with top donors and GOP operatives. Also was keynote speaker at 2012 Republican National Convention. At Aspen Institute in July 2013, started spat with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., from afar, criticizing libertarians in the party. Invited to speak to Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom conference, but declined and instead appeared with Bill Clinton in Chicago to talk about disaster relief.

Hog the TV: Not so much these days. Typically avoids the usual sober circuit — most conspicuously, the Sunday news shows, although he appeared on four of them the day after his 2013 re-election. Preferred to cut up on late-night TV before the traffic scandal surfaced and investigations kicked in.

Do something: Won November 2013 re-election, becoming first Republican to earn more than 50 percent of the New Jersey vote in a quarter-century. Led state’s response to Superstorm Sandy. Agreed to expand state’s Medicaid program under Obama’s health law, while some other Republican governors have refused to do so. Vetoed a bill that would have sanctioned gay marriage, but declined to appeal a court ruling that legalized it. Signed law increasing pension and health costs for public workers.

Take a stand: Bridges partisan divide. Showed in disaster response that pragmatism trumped party labels, although questions arose later about whether politics played a part in recovery aid. In re-election, outperformed Republicans elsewhere among women and minority voters. Moderate stance could be a strength in a presidential election, although a weakness in striving for his party’s nomination, because accommodation is not what core constituencies of either party want to see. But he’s pleased some conservatives by taking on labor unions, voicing opposition to gay marriage and to abortion rights except in case of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

Baggage: If you have to declare “I am not a bully,” you’ve got a problem. Christie apologized in January 2014 for highway lane closures near the George Washington Bridge apparently ordered by his aides as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who did not endorse him for re-election. He denied knowledge of the machinations. The episode deepened questions about what Christie, or at least those around him, will do to win, and took a toll in his popularity. Investigations are underway into the traffic episode and an allegation his administration linked Sandy aid to approval for a real estate project. Partial deflection: A nearly two-hour news conference packed with apologies, but it didn’t put questions to rest. One investigation cleared him but critics dismissed it as a whitewash because lawyers chosen by his own office conducted it.

Shadow campaign: RGA chairmanship allows him to grow his national profile with voters and party officials with regular travel and key appearances. Began building broad coalition of donors through his national fundraising tour in spring 2013. There were also “draft Christie” movements in Iowa and South Carolina in 2011, where activists continue to support him. Hired senior Romney media mind Russ Schriefer in late spring 2013. But the shadow of scandal still hangs over his shadow campaign.

Social media: More engaged in Twitter (“It was great to be able to visit with the owners of Rossi’s Rent-A-Rama in Ortley today”) than Facebook, where posts are by staff. No second-guessing himself in this post-election tweet: “if I walk away with 70 percent of my agenda, NJ is 70 percent better off than it would have been otherwise.”

– Steve Peoples


Then-Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Then-Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “My focus is entirely on working for Texans in the U.S. Senate.” — February. Standard disclaimer when asked about running.

Book: Yes, book deal disclosed by his agent in April. Also, a coloring book featuring Cruz has sold tens of thousands of copies since its December release.

Iowa: Yes, four visits in eight months. In March, Cruz addressed influential Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines while also keynoting a packed county GOP event in Mason City. Went pheasant hunting and spoke at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October, to conservative Christians in August and met privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project in July.

New Hampshire: Yes, making his second and third trips in April to attend “Freedom Summit” sponsored by conservative groups including the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity in Manchester, and two weeks later, headlining a county GOP Lincoln Day Dinner at a North Country ski resort. First came for August 2013 state GOP committee fundraiser.

South Carolina: Yes, “Pastors and Pews” event in November, cultivating relationship with religious conservatives. Also visited last May, speaking to annual state GOP dinner.

Foreign travel: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012 even before being sworn in as senator. Again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.

Meet the money: Yes, met in March with top California conservative donors and keynoted a February GOP fundraiser packed with high-rollers in the ballroom of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate, Mar-a-Largo — though those gathered offered louder applause for a short video from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz also huddled with Trump in New York City in November and has a list of potential donors that’s still skyrocketing after collecting more than 1.5 million signatures and counting for the online petition “Don’tFundObamaCare,” which he began in 2013.

Networking: Yes. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after landing the group’s coveted keynote role in 2013. He’s engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives in Texas and beyond, and pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, while also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders. Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate.

Hog the TV: Yes, several Sunday news show appearances already this year, plenty last year. Frequent guest on Fox News and CNN.

Do something: Threatened to filibuster February legislation raising the federal debt limit to avoid a government default, forcing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and much of the GOP Senate leadership to vote against him and defy the tea party. His 21-hour, 19-minute quasi-filibuster on the Senate floor in September helped spark the government shutdown the following month. Argued before U.S. Supreme Court nine times, eight of them as Texas solicitor general (2003-2008).

Take a stand: Cruz stood all night during his marathon Senate speech that began by opposing “Obamacare” but veered into his reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” He joked at the Gridiron Club dinner in March that the speech featured 21 hours of “my favorite sound” — his own voice. His encore debt-limit filibuster threat only further embodied core aspirations of the tea party.

Baggage: Reputation as an upstart who seeks out controversy, which is also part of his appeal. Has always been polarizing in his own party, but GOP leadership was downright enraged with him after debt-limit filibuster threat. Also has family baggage: His father has called for sending President Barack Obama “back to Kenya.” But Ted Cruz has birther baggage of his own: Questions about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother. Deflection: Cruz promised in the summer of 2013 to renounce his Canadian citizenship — but still hasn’t done so.

Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Has been one of the largest beneficiaries of former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, and has gotten millions of dollars and grassroots logical support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Ending Spending PAC. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz’s 2013 tour of Texas and different states, opposing the health care law. His chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 book about federal overreach.

Social media: Active on Facebook and Twitter, poses with a hunting rifle on his campaign accounts and in the usual suit and tie with flag backdrop on his Senate accounts. Much content is pumped out by staff.

– Will Weissert


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks alongside other governors after a State Dining Room meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House February 25, 2013. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks alongside other governors after a State Dining Room meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House February 25, 2013. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “My honest answer is I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2016.” – February 2014.

Book: Yes. But hardcover “Leadership and Crisis” from 2010 is dated. No set plans for another book, inner circle says. But his moves toward managed-care privatization in health care and school vouchers in education could anchor another policy-themed tome.

Iowa: Yes, summer 2013 visit, then flew with Iowa governor to governors’ association meeting in Milwaukee. In Iowa seven times in 2012.

New Hampshire: Yes, keynote speech to local Republican organization in March, headlined state GOP fundraiser in May 2013, two visits in 2012.

South Carolina: Yes, attended August 2013 fundraiser for Gov. Nikki Haley, then back in September for Republican Governors Association fundraising.

Foreign travel: Rarely, but that may be changing. January 2014 trade and investment mission to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, first time overseas as governor. Traveled to Canada in August 2013 to speak to Oilmen’s Business Forum Luncheon about his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. A few trips while in Congress, 2004-2008.

Meet the money: Yes, met leading GOP donors in New York City. Among prospective candidates who visited Iowa GOP donor Bruce Rastetter’s farm in August 2013 for annual fundraiser for the governor.

Networking: Big time and small time, far and wide. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, also in 2013. Made time for fundraiser for local sheriff in Michigan. Altogether, has spent much of his time during six years as governor on the road, talking to GOP and activist groups in other states, supporting Republican candidates and promoting his achievements. Travel schedule has been unpopular at home. Has close ties with social conservatives. In March, created a political action committee to help conservative candidates running for Congress, giving him continued opportunities to network nationally.

Hog the TV: Not usually, only occasional Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. But he did monopolize the microphone at a February gathering of governors, issuing harsh criticism of President Barack Obama on the White House lawn, saying the president “seems to be waving the white flag of surrender” on the economy.

Do something: Set an example for effective disaster response in several hurricanes and the Gulf oil spill (but unlike New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, trashed the Obama administration). Privatized a major chunk of Louisiana’s Medicaid program and most of the university-run public hospital system. Created statewide voucher program that uses tax dollars to pay for private school tuition. Signed abortion restrictions, backed a science education law that some academics say amounts to back-door promotion of creationism and fought to keep it impossible for gay couples to adopt jointly.

Take a stand: Stands for “fundamental shifting (of) the size and focus of government” and has record on privatization to show he means it. Happy to carry social conservative banner while demonstrating curious mind on policy issues, at the risk of making him look seriously wonky.

Baggage: Pesky state governance issues. Had to scrap ambitious plan to replace Louisiana’s corporate and personal income taxes with higher sales taxes because of strong opposition. THAT speech: No doubt critics will be happy to dredge up video of disastrous GOP response to Barack Obama’s first presidential address to Congress in 2009, a prime showcase that went awry when Jindal delivered a dud. Decades-old writing about an exorcist-type act he claims to have watched as a college student.

Deflection: The first Indian-American governor in the United States helped banish the memory of the GOP response with funny, well-delivered speech to media elite at 2013 Gridiron dinner, which included this self-deprecating reference to his own prospects for a presidential run: “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?” Low approval ratings in home state. Biggest accomplishments have some holes critics can pounce on: a troublesome audit pointing to lack of accountability and performance standards in voucher schools; the Jindal administration’s award of a $200 million Medicaid contract came under investigation by state and federal grand juries; ethics overhaul that he called reform made it harder to prosecute ethics code violators.

Shadow campaign: Setting up PAC called Stand Up to Washington to help GOP candidates in fall elections and extend his political and fundraising ties. Created Washington-based nonprofit, America Next, in October 2013 to push his policy ideas nationally. His media consulting shop is OnMessage, based in Alexandria, Va., where campaign strategist Curt Anderson has had a long relationship with him. Timmy Teepell, a former campaign chief of staff for Jindal, has been made a partner.

Social media: Active on Twitter and on Facebook, where he lists among favorite books, “John Henry Newman: A Biography,” about canonized British cardinal and sage. Also favors James Bond movies.

– Melinda Deslatte


U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) waves as he speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.Nondenial denial: Says he will decide after the 2014 elections whether to run. “We’re definitely talking about it, my family is talking about it. I truly won’t make my mind up until after the 2014 elections. But I haven’t been shy in saying we’re thinking about it.” — Fox News, March 9.

Nondenial denial: Says he will decide after the 2014 elections whether to run. “We’re definitely talking about it, my family is talking about it. I truly won’t make my mind up until after the 2014 elections. But I haven’t been shy in saying we’re thinking about it.” — Fox News, March 9.

Write a book: Yes. But may need something less flame-throwing than 2012’s “Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds,” and something less dated and more broadly pitched than 2011’s “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.”

Iowa visits: Yes, three times in 2013. In March snagged the state GOP chairman, who announced he was quitting to join Paul as an adviser.

New Hampshire: Yes, visiting state for spring events in Dover and Manchester. Won straw poll at March meeting of Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua. Several visits last year.

South Carolina: Yes, foreign policy speech at The Citadel military college and small GOP fundraiser in Charleston in November 2013 visit; headlined several fundraisers earlier last year.

Foreign travel: Yes. Visited Israel, Jordan in 2013, met Palestinian Authority as well as Israeli leaders, said in speech in Israel that U.S. should trim aid to Israel gradually. Member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Meet the money: Yes, attended Mitt Romney’s Utah retreat in June with big GOP donors, golfed with some there. Met potential donors in New York City and California. Raised money for Nevada GOP at Las Vegas event in July. Has met donors and supporters in Texas, which his father represented in Congress.

Networking: Yes. Generated plenty of buzz and won a symbolic straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. Campaigned in fall 2013 for GOP candidates in Virginia governor’s race and Senate election in New Jersey. Met Michigan Republicans in September. Pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders, in what shaped up to be an audition on social issues for several prospective candidates. Earlier in 2013 spoke to CPAC, Faith and Freedom Coalition forum, FreedomFest libertarian event in Las Vegas and at Reagan Presidential Library on California trip that also took him to Silicon Valley tech companies. Planning spring speeches at Harvard and University of California.

Hog the TV: Yes, a fixture on the Sunday news shows; he’s on a first-name basis with the hosts. Also frequent guest on news networks, especially Fox.

Do something: One-man, nearly 13-hour Senate filibuster to protest drone policy made country take notice, and impressed civil-liberties advocates outside his tea party constituency.

Take a stand: Tea party plus. Fiscal conservative, criticizes surveillance state, praised Supreme Court gay marriage ruling as one that avoids “culture war,” aggressive in seeking repeal of the health law. In February, filed lawsuit against Obama and others in the administration over the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. Joining in 2014 with liberal lawmakers and others in effort to roll back some mandatory minimum sentences and give judges more flexibility in fitting punishment to crime. Snippy exchanges with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signal scrappy nomination fight if they both run, and he’s reaching across party lines — to take swipes at Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Baggage: Dear old dad: Must move beyond fringe reputation that kept father’s presidential runs from going far. Deflection: Full-speed ahead. Aggressively pressing libertarian principles, especially on anti-terrorism. Past positions: Expressed misgivings about how Civil Rights Act bans racial discrimination by private businesses. Deflection: Reaching out directly to black voters and insisting the party needs to broaden appeal to minorities. He needs to broaden his appeal, too, beyond his tea party roots. The Washington Times canceled his column after he was found to have used passages from other people in his speeches and writings as if they were his own. Deflection: Promising proper citations and footnotes for his pronouncements “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.”

Shadow campaign: Has formidable leadership PAC called Rand PAC, has maintained ties to father’s political network in early primary states, and benefits from strong tea party support.

Social media: Aggressive. Bragged last year that he’d attracted more than 1 million likes for his Facebook page, where he lists his own books as his favorites. Countered Christie’s couched criticism of his opposition to warrantless wiretapping with a tweet declaring that Christie “worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom.”

– Ken Thomas


Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “It’s a long way down the road.” — Iowa, February. Says he’ll decide in December.

Book: Not since 2010.

Iowa visits: Yes, visited Des Moines suburbs and Davenport in February, meeting GOP activists and attending an event with business leaders sponsored by the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity. Also met with Gov. Terry Branstad and addressed a Des Moines crowd of 400 in November.

New Hampshire: No.

South Carolina: Yes, spoke to state GOP in December. Also visited in August to raise money for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign. This is the state where he announced his failed presidential campaign, in August 2011, and where he dropped out, in January 2012, two days before its primary.

Foreign travel: Yes, has visited Israel numerous times including an October trip that included a photo op with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting Cabinet members, and a separate stop in London to see British officials and financial leaders.

Meet the money: Yes, very friendly with major donors nationwide as former head of the Republican Governors Association, and has strong contacts with both grass-roots activists and mainstream GOP donors from his years in office. Since announcing last summer he won’t seek a fourth full term, has had more time to work the phones privately. Also has led many job-poaching missions in big states with Democratic governors and met privately during those trips with key donors, especially in New York and California.

Networking: Yes, spoke at the past two Conservative Political Action Conferences, as well as its regional meeting in St. Louis in September. Addressed conservative activists at a RedState Gathering in New Orleans in August, mistakenly saying he was in Florida. Job-rob tour in various states helped make connections.

Hog the TV: Raising his profile lately, making several national TV appearances while starring in a flood of media spots in California designed to persuade businesses based there to move to Texas. Previously, though, not much. Only a few Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election, including one in February with three other governors. Said on CNN in February “it wasn’t appropriate” for his old friend, renegade rocker Ted Nugent, to call President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” Perry debated health care law on “Crossfire” in September with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who’s considering running for Democratic presidential nomination.

Do something: “Texas Miracle” job-creation boom has seen state create a third of the net new jobs nationwide over last decade, although Texas has disproportionately high percentage of hourly workers earning minimum wage or less. Helped muscle new abortion restrictions into law last summer. Challenged the Democratic candidate to replace him as governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis, on the abortion issue by asking, what if her mother had aborted her?

Take a stand: A prominent voice on conservative issues since before the birth of the tea party. Wants to ban all abortion in Texas, relax environmental regulations, boost states’ rights; opposes gay marriage and says the health care law is doomed.

Baggage: “Oops!” Memories of his stumbling 2012 campaign, a quick progression from a front-runner to flameout. Deflection: He’s got a more serious, mature look with dark-framed eyeglasses first donned in August and more touches of gray for the man long dubbed “Governor Good Hair.” He followed up his “oops” brain freeze in a November 2011 debate, when he forgot the name of the third federal department he wanted to close — the Energy Department — by poking fun at himself and by noting frequently that “second chances are what America’s all about.”

Shadow campaign: Created a political action committee, Americans for Economic Freedom, in 2013 to raise his profile again, help him test the waters and broadcast ads promoting Republican governors around the country. Using more than $200,000 left over from the PAC that raised millions for his 2012 campaign, the group was formed with Jeff Miller, a former chief financial officer for the California Republican Party, as CEO. Board members include Marc Rodriguez, chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a fellow Texan, St. Louis beer baron August Busch III, economist Art Laffer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose 2012 White House campaign Perry endorsed upon giving up his own presidential bid. That PAC and private marketing fund Texas One have paid for much of Perry’s domestic and overseas travel.

Social media: Active. One popular tweet was accidental — from his pocket, he said — and consisted of “I.” Followers jumped in to complete his sentence. One offered: “I … really like Obamacare.” (He doesn’t.) Facebook appears staff-generated. Calls himself now simply a politician, though he was still listed on Facebook as a presidential candidate long after he left the 2012 race.

– Will Weissert


Sen. Marco RubioNondenial denial: “That’s something that I’ll consider later in this year, early next year.” March 2014, NBC.

Book: Yes, now has a new book tentatively scheduled for release in late 2014, from same publisher of his 2012 memoir “An American Son.”

Iowa visits: Yes, just days after 2012 election, but largely holding off on a new wave of trips to early voting states until later this year.

New Hampshire: Making his first appearance of the 2016 season, in May, at county Republican dinner. Multiple appearances before 2012 election. In May 2013, his Reclaim America PAC put up ads to defend GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte against attack ads from group financed by then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

South Carolina: Yes. In ahead of the 2016 pack, headlining state’s Silver Elephant dinner in 2012. Stay tuned for more.

Foreign travel: Yes. Delivered foreign policy speech in London in early December, visited the Philippines, Japan and South Korea in January; Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority in February 2013. Also went to Israel after 2010 election to Senate, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, Spain, Germany, Haiti and Colombia in 2012. Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Meet the money: Yes, aggressive national fundraising outreach, including trips to New York and California to meet potential donors. Among a handful of possible candidates to attend September 2013 event at home of Woody Johnson, New York Jets’ owner and Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman. Also attended a fundraising strategy meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington with well-connected lobbyists and Mitt Romney bundlers from 2012 election. Among top fundraisers in early 2016 field in campaign and leadership political action committees.

Networking: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused in part on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Well-received speech to Conservative Political Action Conference in March, though he lagged in the symbolic straw poll. Campaigned for Republican in Virginia governor’s race last fall. Spent more than $200,000 in early December 2013 from PAC to help U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s running for the U.S Senate in Arkansas. In October won standing ovations at Values Voter conference when affirming his Christian faith and denouncing “rising tide of intolerance” toward social conservatives. Delivered keynote address at fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, an evangelical group that led the successful 2008 effort to ban gay marriage in the state. In late November, delivered foreign policy speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute before going to London.

Hog the TV: Staying on par with most rivals in Sunday news show appearances. Blanketed all five Sunday shows one day in April 2013, before he dropped the subject of immigration; made several other appearances since. Frequent guest on news networks. Was granted coveted chance to present televised Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2013, which he did in two languages and with jarring reach for drink of water.

Do something: Broker of Senate immigration overhaul, though he’s gone quiet on the issue. Worked with anti-abortion groups on Senate version of bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Early leader in so-far futile effort to starve federal health care law of money.

Take a stand: A 2014 initiative on poverty that calls for replacing the earned income tax credit with a federal wage supplement for workers in certain low-paying jobs. Also, consolidate anti-poverty federal money into a single agency that would transfer the money to states. Advocate tea party fiscal conservatism and repeal of the health care law. Recent focus on foreign policy and education, too.

Baggage: A rift with his tea party constituency on immigration, “a real trial for me.” Deflection: Go aggressive on a matter of common ground, which he did in pledging to take apart Obama’s health law. Dry-mouthed Rubio suffered embarrassing moment when he clumsily reached for water while delivering GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Deflection: Self-deprecating jokes about it. Thin resume for presidency, but others — Obama included — have powered through that problem. Bush shadow: unclear if he would run should his mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, get in the race.

Shadow campaign: Reclaim America PAC led by former deputy chief of staff, Terry Sullivan, veteran of South Carolina politics. The PAC has already spent six figures to defend Ayotte on gun control and expects to be active behind GOP candidates across country in 2014 election. Will begin more aggressive travel to early voting states starting in May.

Social media: Aggressive, with large followings, appears to make personal use of Twitter more than staff-generated Facebook. Takes lots of shots at the health law. On Facebook, lists “Pulp Fiction” movie and “The Tudors” historical fiction TV series among favorites.

-Steve Peoples


Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “Jane and I are going to sit down in 2015 and give it the serious … conversation, consideration that are required for keeping our options open. But right now I have responsibilities in the majority in the House of Representatives that I feel I ought to attend to and then I’ll worry about those things.” March 9, CBS.

Book: Yes, coming this year.

Iowa visits: Yes, keynote speaker for Iowa GOP’s big fundraising dinner in Cedar Rapids this spring. Main speaker at governor’s annual birthday fundraiser in November 2013, in first visit since 2012 campaign. “Maybe we should come back and do this more often,” he teased. Wife’s family is from Iowa and their Janesville, Wis., home is only a few hours away.

New Hampshire: Yes, headlined Manchester fundraiser in February for former House colleague, Frank Guinta, who is trying to win back the seat he lost in 2012.

South Carolina: During 2012 campaign.

Foreign travel: Yes. Middle East travel during congressional career, visited troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meet the money: Yes, attracts Wall Street interest, attended Mitt Romney’s Utah retreat with major GOP donors, where he took some guests skeet shooting. Place on 2012 ticket gives Ryan a leg up on money matters.

Networking: Yes, prime networker as 2012 vice presidential candidate, addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, the 2013 Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting and more. Helping fellow House Republicans raise money.

Hog the TV: Many Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. Occasional guest on network news.

Do something: Republican broker of the bipartisan budget deal in December that averted a potential government shutdown in early 2014 and scaled back across-the-board spending cuts. The deal draws a contrast between Ryan and potential rivals who oppose it. A budget-hawk record to be judged on. May be emerging as influential moderate on immigration.

Take a stand: Cutting spending, taking on entitlements. Anti-poverty initiative has also become a focus, taking him to poor precincts and producing detailed report on the poor that could be precursor to legislation. Pushing for immigration overhaul, largely behind the scenes.

Baggage: On one hand, budget pain. Critics are sure to dust off ads from 2012 presidential campaign blasting the sharp cuts that Ryan advocated for Medicare and other programs. But this is catnip to GOP conservatives. On the other hand, his December 2013 bipartisan budget deal risks trouble with the tea party. Still carries stigma of national ticket loss in 2012. Immigration position rankles some conservatives. Comments in March about cultural “tailspin” in inner cities and “generations of men” having lost the work ethic there struck some as veiled racism. Deflection: Called his remark “inarticulate.”

Shadow campaign: His Prosperity Action PAC.

Social media: Aggressive, with large following. King of Facebook among potential rivals in both parties. Seeks $10 donations for “Team Ryan” bumper stickers for his PAC and kisses a fish. Posts photo of President Barack Obama with his feet up on Oval Office desk. Commanding presence on Twitter, too, via an account associated with his political action committee and another as congressman.

-Calvin Woodward


Rick Santorum appears on the PBS NewsHour during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Rick Santorum appears on the PBS NewsHour during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Nondenial denial: “I’m certainly looking at it pretty seriously.” March 7, Fox.

Book: Yes, coming in 2014, “Blue Collar Conservatives.”

Iowa visits: Yes, recent visit with strategists and media. Also, August 2013 speech to conservative Christians in state where he won the 2012 caucuses. Illness kept him away from an event last April by Faith and Freedom Coalition. Screened his new Christmas movie in Iowa in November.

New Hampshire: Yes, March speech to Northeast Republican Leadership Conference marked his return to a state where he performed weakly in 2012 campaign.

South Carolina: Yes. Campaigned in April 2013 for former Gov. Mark Sanford’s opponent, Curtis Bostic, in a GOP House runoff race. Sanford won.

Foreign travel: Scant foreign travel while in the Senate drew notice in 2012 GOP campaign.

Meet the money: 2012 shoestring campaign was largely fueled by a super political action committee to which Republican donor Foster Friess gave more than $2 million. Santorum bunked at supporters’ homes on occasion.

Networking: Opened 2014 with Texas speech to conservative think tank and followed with speech to Conservative Political Action Conference criticizing GOP establishment. Speeches around the country. In 2013, previewed “The Christmas Candle,” a film made by his Christian-themed movie company, for conservative religious leaders at Values Voter conference in Washington. Screened it for other like-minded groups.

Hog the TV: Yes, largely in pursuit of plugging his Christmas movie. “The Colbert Report,” Fox News, MSNBC and more. Radio, too. Teamed up with Democrat Howard Dean as sparring partners for debates on the air and with audiences. Occasional Sunday news shows.

Do something: Making Christian-themed, family-friendly movies at the moment; has record from Senate days.

Take a stand: Lately, against “dangerous” U.N. Disabilities Treaty. Social conservative activism goes way back. Focus on blue-collar economic opportunity.

Baggage: Overshadowed by newer conservative figures, conceivably out-popes the pope on some social issues. 2012 positions included opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest and support for right of states to ban contraception and gay marriage. Deflection: Being overshadowed means being an underdog, and he can thrive at that. Feisty 2012 campaign became the biggest threat to Romney’s march to the nomination at one point.

Shadow campaign: Keeps in touch with chief supporters of his winning 2012 Iowa caucus campaign, giving him a leg up on a campaign organization in the state.

Social media: Active on Twitter and Facebook, where he relentlessly plugs his new Christmas movie, gives away tickets and goes after the health law.

-Calvin Woodward


Republican National Convention, rnc, 2012

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “I’m really focused on 2014, not getting ahead of the game. … You guys can predict all you want.” — Jan. 5, CNN.

Book: Yes. “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge,” was out in fall 2013.

Iowa visits: Yes. In May 2013, spoke to 600 at GOP fundraiser outside Des Moines. Talked about his seven years as a young child living in Plainfield, a tiny town in northeast Iowa. “Yeah, I’m going to Iowa, but I get invited to other states that have nothing to do with presidential politics,” to Wisconsin State Journal.

New Hampshire: Yes, headlined a GOP state convention in October 2013, keynote at state party convention in September 2012.

South Carolina: Yes, attended August 2013 fundraiser for Gov. Nikki Haley, who came to Wisconsin to campaign for him in 2012 recall vote.

Foreign travel: Yes. China in 2013 on trade mission. Hasn’t been to Israel.

Meet the money: Yes, addressed Republican Jewish Coalition at a Las Vegas gathering in March where the main attraction was Sheldon Adelson, a prolific Republican donor and casino owner who’s looking where to place his bets in GOP field. Headlined 2013 fundraisers in New York and Connecticut.

Networking: One of only a few 2016 prospects who spoke to Republican Jewish Coalition. Skipped the big Conservative Political Action Conference in March, appeared there last year. Campaigned for GOP in Virginia governor’s race. Spoke to Michigan Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island last September. Hosted the National Governors Association summer meeting in Milwaukee in 2013. Conservative Political Action Conference, Aspen Institute. Aides said he hoped to campaign for Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., but couldn’t schedule it.

Hog the TV: Already on the Sunday news show scoreboard for 2014, with a couple of appearances. Half-dozen such appearances since 2012 election. “Crossfire” debate with Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. Also, Piers Morgan, Lou Dobbs, more.

Do something: Curbs on public service unions became a national flashpoint, but he won the effort and the recall election that followed.

Take a stand: Fiscal stewardship, from a GOP point of view. Tough guy against the unions and liberal defenders of the status quo. Says presidential and vice presidential candidates should both be current or former governors because GOP in Congress is the party of no.

Baggage: Some things that give him huge appeal with GOP conservatives — taking on unions, most notably — would whip up Democratic critics in general election. Wisconsin near bottom in job creation despite his main campaign pledge in 2010 to create 250,000 private sector jobs in his term. Release of thousands of emails in February shed new light on a criminal investigation into whether Walker’s aides were illegally doing campaign work for the 2010 governor’s election while being paid as county employees. Walker, then a county executive, wasn’t charged but the episode has proved a distraction as he campaigns for re-election in the fall.

Shadow campaign: Keeps close counsel with in-state group led by Keith Gilkes; also stays in touch with top national GOP governor strategists such as Phil Musser and Nick Ayers.

Social media: Posts vigorously on Facebook and on his Twitter accounts. “Wow is it cold out.” Many exclamation points. “Glad USDA is keeping cranberries on school menus. I drink several bottles of cranberry juice each day!” Promotes policy achievements and his TV appearances, reflects on sports, pokes President Barack Obama.

-Calvin Beaumont


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis/Getty Images

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis/Getty Images

Nondenial denial: “There may be reasons I don’t run, but there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run.” — February, CNN.

Book: Not lately. Could be time for a sequel to “Promises to Keep” from 2007, 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: Yes. In March trip for Nashua job-training event, made time to raise money for three New Hampshire Democrats. Asked about presidential ambitions, he quipped, “I’m here about jobs — not mine.”

South Carolina: Yes. Headlined annual fundraising dinner in May for South Carolina Democratic Party, a speculation stoker in big primary state. Appeared at Rep. James Clyburn’s annual fish fry. Spent Easter weekend last year with wife at Kiawah Island, near Charleston. Vacationed there for a week in 2009 as well.

Foreign travel: You bet. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during President Barack Obama’s first term. Sent to Poland and Lithuania in March to reassure NATO allies anxious about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Spoke regularly to Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, until Yanukovych fled to Russia. Seven trips to the Americas since 2009, including a March visit to Chile. December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea, much more foreign travel earlier in Obama’s presidency.

Meet the money: Actively fundraising for Democratic committees and candidates in the 2014 midterms. Headlined fundraiser at home of Biden donor in Florida for House candidate Alex Sink in February; Sink lost the special election in March. Regularly schmoozes contributors at private receptions.

Networking: And how. Plans to campaign in more than 100 races in the 2014 election. 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. Campaigned for new Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, new Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. Speaks regularly to special interests.

Hog the TV: He’s back. After being largely absent from airwaves for more than a year, has resumed frequent interviews, including TV blitz the morning after the State of the Union and a CNN interview aboard an Amtrak train. Even dished on his skin care routine and his wife’s oddball pranks during an interview with Rachael Ray to promote the health care law. But not a Sunday news show fixture.

Do something: Leading Obama’s review of federal job-training programs. 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. Biden would be 74 by Inauguration Day 2017. Saddled by Obama’s low approval ratings.

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. Pew Research polling found public perceives him as not so bright, clownish. Those who like him in polling say he’s honest and good.

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.

-Josh Lederman


Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., speaks at a news conference after a Democratic Whip meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on the need to reach an agreement on debt reduction. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call

Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., speaks at a news conference after a Democratic Whip meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on the need to reach an agreement on debt reduction. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call

Nondenial denial: “No one ever goes down this road, I would hope, without giving it a lot of consideration and a lot of preparation and a lot of thought work, and so that’s what I’m doing.” — February. Spoke earlier of building “a body of work that lays the framework of the candidacy for 2016,” in an acknowledgment of presidential ambition that is rare in the field.

Book: No. “I’m not sure where I’d find the time for that.” It’s probably only a matter of time before he suddenly finds the time.

Iowa: Yes, in fall 2012 headlined U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, a must-stop for many Democrats seeking to compete in the leadoff caucuses. In Maryland, attended fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate in Iowa.

New Hampshire: Yes, last November, spoke at Democratic Party dinner, where he criticized a political climate with “a lot more excuses and ideology than cooperation or action” and promoted himself as Baltimore’s former mayor and a governor who can get things done. Also spoke at a 2012 convention of New Hampshire Democrats. Appeared at fundraiser in Washington area last year for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

South Carolina: Yes, 2013 speech to Democratic activists.

Foreign travel: Yes, considerable. Israel last year for a second time. Also Denmark, Ireland, France, Brazil and El Salvador in 2013. Asia in 2011, Iraq in 2010.

Meet the money: Has many bases covered as one of the party’s top fundraisers. Raised more than $1 million for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and in December ended his year as finance chairman for the Democratic Governors Association.

Networking: Yes. Busy spring, with speeches to California Democratic state convention in March, Wisconsin Democrats in April and Massachusetts Democrats in May. Was Democratic governors’ chairman for two years until December 2012. Campaigned in October 2013 for Democratic candidates in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

Hog the TV: He’s getting back in the swing. January 2014 Sunday news show appearance on CNN was first in months, followed by CBS in February. In September 2013, sparred with Texas Gov. Rick Perry over job creation and health care on CNN.

Do something: Has posted some victories as governor that appeal to liberals: toughened gun laws, repealed the death penalty, saw voters approve gay marriage after he got behind legislation to approve it, set up a framework to develop offshore wind power. In April, won legislative approval of minimum wage increase, a 2014 priority.

Take a stand: Liberal checklist: increased spending on education, infrastructure, transportation; supports same-sex marriage, immigration overhaul, repealing death penalty, pushes environmental protections.

Baggage: State-run health insurance exchange website was an expensive bust, prompting officials to make an embarrassing switch in April to one based on Connecticut’s. Deflection: Says Maryland still exceeded first enrollment goal of 260,000, largely due to much greater Medicaid enrollments than projected. Contraband- and drug-smuggling scheme at state-run Baltimore City Detention Center that resulted in 44 people being indicted prompted O’Malley to take immediate actions and make a variety of budget and policy proposals to increase security at the detention center and prisons.

The governor has a record of raising taxes that could be challenged by less liberal Democrats, never mind Republicans. Higher taxes on sales, corporate income, gasoline, people making more than $100,000 and sewer bills.

Shot across the bow from the head of Maryland’s Republican Party, Diana Waterman: “Outrageously high taxes, a hostile regulatory environment, and thousands of people who are closing shop or leaving the state for greener pastures. This ‘progress’ he likes to boast about will be a tough sell to voters in Iowa and tax-wary New Hampshire.” O’Malley’s deflection: A vigorous defense of his record and state’s business climate, praise from U.S. Chamber of Commerce for state’s entrepreneurship and innovation.

Shadow campaign: Set up political action committee called O’Say Can You See and hired two people for fundraising and communications.

Social media: On Twitter, standard governor’s fare but promotes rare appearances by his Celtic rock band, O’Malley’s March, for which he sings and plays guitar, banjo and tin whistle. On Facebook, his PAC-generated page is more active than official governor’s account.

-Brian White