2016 race kicks into high gear

Sevier county newspaper image of Rand Paul Jim Bunning by Gage Skidmoreby Zachary Toillion

Sevier County Newspaper watches as 2016 race kicks into high gear.

While the 2016 presidential election is over two years away, the race to the White House is already well underway. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Since the start of 2013, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has visited Iowa a total of five times. Christie is in good company. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already visited the state once and is planning a return back in August. Former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has visited the state twice. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla), Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) have all also visited the state. In August, Huckabee and former Sen. and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-Pa) will speak at The Family Leader, a politically powerful evangelical group. At stake is the endorsement of popular Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. Primary polling shows a statistical tie between newcomer Paul and Huckabee who won the caucuses in 2008.

Iowa isn’t the only state receiving attention from possible presidential candidates. New Hampshire has received visits from Santorum, Ryan, Huckabee, Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Christie. Cruz holds the record for most trips to New Hampshire, having been there four times. Polling shows that Christie and Paul have the edge in The Granite State.

Hillary Clinton has taken a different route than her Republican counterparts. Clinton has spent her time giving private speeches to investment banking groups, political organizations, and nonprofits primarily in big cities, including Philadelphia and New York City. However, her book tour has stopped by several important states for the 2016 election, including Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Clinton has also given a series of high profile interviews, including a town hall event for CNN.

Supporters of Clinton have already created a massive infrastructure for a potential 2016 candidacy according to Sevier county newspaper.

Her supporters formed a Super PAC in January 2013 called “Ready for Hillary,” having raised over $4 million in 2013 alone. The Super PAC has also championed a slew of endorsements for Clinton, including 20 senators, 41 representatives, and a handful of former cabinet members, newspapers, mayors and governors.

While Clinton has yet to visit Iowa or New Hampshire, it is a different story for other potential Democratic presidential candidates. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) visited Iowa in June as the keynote speaker for the Iowa Democratic Convention and also made a return in July for a fundraising event. O’Malley visited New Hampshire in November of last year and made a return in June for the state’s Democratic Convention. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Mont.) visited Iowa in December as the keynote speaker for a progressive fundraiser where he criticized Hillary Clinton’s initial support for the Iraq War.

With slightly less than 100 days remaining until the 2014 midterm election, several elected officials have their sights set on 2016. With over two years remaining, the invisible presidential primary has already begun.

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