Presidential checklist: preparations in motion

The South Portico of the White House in Washington on Friday, May 9, 2014. A bevy of solar panels blanketing the roof of the White House is getting its day in the sun. Technicians have finished installing the panels at the nation’s most famous address. The milestone completes a project that President Barack Obama hopes will send a clear signal that renewable energy is both feasible and environmentally shrewd.
(Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the latest prep work for a presidential campaign, Rand Paul is conspicuously courting moderate and establishment Republicans while Ted Cruz keeps up a travel schedule that has 2016 written all over it.

Jeb Bush is stirring from something of a political snooze and a half-dozen other credible prospects are getting their voices heard in the din.

As for Democrats, a Hillary Rodham Clinton book coming out in June is about as exciting as it gets these days.

The suspense of a Democratic nomination race is in suspension until the party’s dominant figure decides whether to run or someone goes for the prize without waiting for her to make up her mind. She sounds and acts a bit more like a candidate by the month, which doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be one.

In both parties, potential contenders are best judged by what they do — and where they go, like Iowa and New Hampshire — not by what they say. Most are keeping up with the fiction that they are not really thinking about running for president even as they transparently position themselves to run for president.

Cruz has visited Iowa four times in the past eight months, and New Hampshire and South Carolina three times each, and claimed that’s got nothing to do with presidential campaign politics, which no one believes. “I think it’s too early to worry about 2016,” the Texas senator said with a straight face.

For months, many prospective 2016 presidential candidates have been networking with party leaders, donors and activists. They’ve published or announced books. They’re using TV appearances to become household names, at least in households tuned to the Sunday or cable news shows.

With a few notable exceptions, their preparations have accelerated since The Associated Press began broadly tracking their activities last summer. Yet even as most march through a pre-campaign checklist, they are keeping their options open should they decide to sit out the race.

Aside from Clinton, the former secretary of state, senator and first lady, potential Democratic contenders include Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Among Republicans in the mix: Bush, the former Florida governor; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Cruz; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Kentucky Sen. Paul; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

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