2016 campaign checklist: They've all been so busy

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Associated Press

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — CHRISTIE:

Non-denial denial: "I am not going to declare tonight ... that I am or I'm not running for president." — October 2013 governor's debate. "I won't make those decisions until I have to."

Book: Not yet, and it's a conspicuous gap, but there's time.

Iowa: Yes, in 2012. Also in 2011 and 2012 to help Iowa 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 midterm 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, who was running for governor. Schmoozed with New Hampshire delegates at GOP convention. The day after his November 2013 re-election win 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 chairman of Republican Governors Association in November 2013, giving him regular access to GOP's top national donors. In that capacity, met donors in Idaho and Vermont in December 2013. 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. Attended Romney's retreat in Utah in June, joining Paul and Ryan in hanging out with major GOP donors.

Networking: Yes, but not the usual conservative activist network. Broad outreach now as NGA chairman, a position that offers regular face time with top party officials and donors nationwide. Also was keynote speaker at 2012 Republican National Convention. At Aspen Institute in July 2013, started spat with Paul from afar, criticizing libertarians in the party. Spoke to Conservative Political Action Conference in 2012 but not invited in 2013. 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: Yes but not the usual sober circuit. Late-night guest with David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon, occasional news-show guest. Brief appearance on "Saturday Night Live" and played himself on an episode of the new sitcom "The Michael J. Fox Show" in fall 2013. Did four Sunday news shows in one day after his 2013 re-election.

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. 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: Fat factor. Blunt style could be seen as offensive, though also part of his appeal. Man dates with Obama, Bill Clinton. Prickly relations with conservatives. Began to deflect weight problem by having a band surgically placed around stomach to restrict food intake. His praise of Obama during storm response and while Romney was trying to win the 2012 campaign turned some Republicans apoplectic. His deflection could be summed up by the title of Romney's book: "No Apology." Has a lot of making up to do with the right.

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.

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 postelection tweet: "if I walk away with 70 percent of my agenda, NJ is 70 percent better off than it would have been otherwise."

(Contributor: Steve Peoples, Boston)

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CRUZ:

Non-denial denial: "My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate." — May, Dallas. Standard disclaimer when asked about running.

Book: No.

Iowa: Yes, three times in three months, spoke to 600 at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October 2013. First visit in July, to meet privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project. Conservative Christians in August.

New Hampshire: Yes, state GOP committee fundraiser in August.

South Carolina: Yes, "Pastors and Pews" event in November, cultivating relationship with religious conservatives. Also visited in 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, Cruz visited major donors in New York City in November and met with Donald Trump. He is also building donor lists from the more than 1.5 million people who signed the online petition "Don'tFundObamaCare." GOP strategist Mary Matalin gave Cruz $1,000 in August, after he visited her home in New Orleans.

Networking: Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate; landed coveted slot as keynote speaker at Conservative Political Action Conference in March. He's engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives and pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, while also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders, as did Paul. Campaigned for Virginia tea party-backed gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli in Richmond in October.

Hog the TV: Yes, six Sunday news show invites since August alone. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in November 2013. Appears on Fox News almost every week, sometimes multiple times; frequent guest on CNN.

Do something: Leading force in the dispute that partly shut the government. As Texas' longest-serving solicitor general (2003-2008), argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times — including opposing the release of a Texan sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing a calculator from Wal-Mart, even though the state's maximum sentence was two years. Texas claimed victory when the Supreme Court sent the case to a lower court, although that court freed the man.

Take a stand: He stood, all right, for the better part of 21 hours in an all-night speech taking on Obama's health care law and veering into a reading of Green Eggs and Ham. Embodies core aspirations of the tea party.

Baggage: Reputation as a hotheaded upstart, which is also part of his appeal. Polarizing within his party. Also comes with birther baggage: Questions have been raised in some quarters about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother. Deflection: Cruz released his birth certificate in August and promised to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Has been one of the largest beneficiaries of 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 summer trip around Texas and the country urging Americans to push Congress to cut off money for Obama's health care law. Cruz's chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote 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.

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JINDAL:

Non-denial denial: "I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2016." October 2013.

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 vanity-policy 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, headlined state GOP fundraiser in May, two visits in 2012.

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

Foreign travel: Traveled to Canada in August 2013 to speak to Oilmen's Business Forum Luncheon about his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. No overseas trips as governor. 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: Campaigned for GOP in 2013 Virginia governor's race. Speeches to Republican and conservative groups in Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New York, Alabama and Indiana in the fall about Justice Department lawsuit against Louisiana's school voucher program. December speech in Philadelphia about energy policy. Americans for Prosperity conference in Orlando in August. Spoke at 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference and opened Virginia Republican convention in May. Aspen Institute and GOP governors' meeting in the summer. In January 2013, headlined winter meeting of Republican National Committee in Charlotte, N.C., where he suggested Republicans "stop being the stupid party." Has close ties with social conservatives.

Hog the TV: No, only occasional Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election.

Do something: Set an example for effective disaster response in several hurricanes and the Gulf oil spill (but unlike Christie, trashed the Obama administration). Privatized a major chunk of Louisiana's Medicaid program and most of the university-run public hospital system. Signed statewide voucher program that covers private school tuition for certain students. Signed abortion restrictions, a science education law that some academics say amounts to back-door promotion of creationism and fought liberalization of state's adoption law, making 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 and inventive approach to 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. THAT speech: No doubt critics will be happy to dredge up video of disastrous GOP response to Obama's first presidential address to Congress in 2009, a prime showcase that went awry when Jindal delivered a dud. Deflection: The first Indian-American governor in the United States helped banish that memory 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 at the school that got the most state money under voucher program; the Jindal administration's award of a $200 million Medicaid contract came under investigation by state and federal grand juries.

Shadow campaign: Created Washington-based nonprofit, America Next, in October 2013 to push his policy ideas nationally. For executive director, he tapped Jill Neunaber, who worked on Romney's presidential campaign in the key early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. 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 recently canonized British cardinal and sage. Also favors James Bond movies.

(Contributor: Melinda Deslatte, Baton Rouge, La.)

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PAUL:

Non-denial denial: Americans want "for example, someone like myself" in 2016 if he chooses to run. — Fox News, Nov. 18. Says he will decide in coming year. Previously: "We're thinking about growing the party. What comes after that, we'll see." June 17, Fox.

Book: Yes. But Kentucky senator 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: Yes, three times in spring and summer 2013, including meeting pastors in July.

New Hampshire: Yes, headlined state GOP fundraiser in May 2013, met activists, went on radio. Joined Rubio and other Republican senators at Washington fundraiser for New Hampshire Republicans.

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

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

Meet the money: Yes, attended Romney's Utah retreat in June with big GOP donors, golfed with some there. Met potential donors in New York City. Raised money for Nevada GOP at Las Vegas event in July.

Networking: Campaigned in fall 2013 for GOP candidates in Virginia governor's race and New Jersey U.S. Senate election. 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 year spoke to Conservative Political Action Committee, 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.

Hog the TV: Yes, more than a dozen Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election, making him leader of the chattering pack. 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.

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 a leadership PAC called Rand PAC, has maintained ties to father's political network in early primary states.

Social media: Aggressive. Bragged on Twitter in June 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."

(Contributor: Ken Thomas)

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