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GOP race spurs awkward endorsements


Sen. Lindsey Graham says Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is “not my favorite.” Ben Carson says there are “better people” than Donald Trump to serve as commander in chief.

And those are the candidates Graham and Carson want to win.

Presidential endorsements often create strange alliances — remember over-the-top Trump validating buttoned-up Mitt Romney four years ago? But rarely have so many partnerships of political necessity appeared to be as reluctant, awkward, even downright tortured as in the 2016 GOP race.

“Neither Trump nor Cruz win Mr. Congeniality contests,” said Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist whose preferred candidate, Jeb Bush, flamed out in February. When it comes to the leading GOP candidates, Navarro said she’s “not sure why anybody would want to hang out with them.”

Bush found a way to throw his support behind Cruz without ever actually having to hang out with the Texas senator. Rather than join Cruz for the traditional on-camera grip-and-grin that normally accompanies an endorsement, Bush took a more subdued approach: a brief, 219-word statement posted on Facebook.

Bush has made no public appearances with Cruz since that initial announcement and has stayed quiet about his support for his former rival on social media. Graham, who joked earlier this year that choosing between Cruz and Trump was like picking between being murdered or poisoned, did hold a private fundraiser for Cruz, but has not made any public appearances with his Senate colleague.

Trump has had more success getting his supporters to appear on stage with him. His surprise endorsement from Chris Christie stunned the political world and appeared for a time to be a perfect union, with the New Jersey governor traveling with the billionaire businessman, and even standing beside Trump during a celebratory press conference after the March 1 Super Tuesday contests.

That’s when things took a turn.

Christie’s deer-in-the-headlights expression as Trump rambled on at length sparked a thousand Internet parodies. Not only has Christie not appeared on stage with Trump since then, he’s barely spoken about his favored candidate in public and has bristled at questions about the real estate mogul from reporters back home in New Jersey.

Carson was also game for an on-camera endorsement of Trump last month. The soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon, who is a favorite of religious conservatives, praised Trump as a man who is far more reflective privately than he comes across publicly.

Trump probably would have preferred if Carson had just left it there.

Instead, Carson has set off on one of the most extraordinary surrogate tours, raising more questions about Trump’s qualifications to be president than he’s answered. He’s said he would have preferred another scenario than seeing Trump winning the nomination, suggested Trump’s supporters aren’t making a rational decision, and conceded that his favored candidate has “major defects.”

“Is it possible Ben Carson is secretly with us and sabotaging Trump from the inside?” former Bush adviser Tim Miller wrote on Twitter. Miller is now working for a super PAC that opposes Trump.

To be sure, both Trump and Cruz have rallied a few loyal endorsements.

Former GOP candidate and business executive Carly Fiorina has been one of Cruz’s most active surrogates, campaigning for him aggressively throughout the country. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker waited until just before his state’s primary to back Cruz, but his late seal of approval was seen as a boon for the Texas senator, who went on to top Trump in the Midwestern battleground.

Trump has benefited from the support of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who announced his support shortly before his home state’s March 1 primary, a contest the New York businessman went on to win handily. Sessions has also set up a foreign policy advisory group for Trump and is helping introduce the real estate mogul to prominent Washington Republicans.

But Trump and Cruz have an incentive for avoiding having a parade of elected officials joining them on the campaign trail. Both have cast themselves as Washington outsiders who want to shake things up in the nation’s capital rather than be embraced by their party’s leaders.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was the first House member to endorse Trump. Even as he’s taken on an active role in promoting the businessman, he says he’s not expecting a flood of his colleagues to follow.

“Mr. Trump is a political outsider,” he said. “He’s not collecting endorsements.”


Kanye West in 2020? The White House says …

Kanye West for 2020? The White House says it is anticipating the rapper’s potential bid for president. 

West claimed he would run for president while accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards earlier this week.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says he looks “forward to seeing what slogan (West) chooses to embroider on his campaign hat.”

Earnest was traveling to Alaska aboard Air Force One with President Barack Obama. 

This isn’t the first time the outspoken rapper has dabbled in talk of politics.

West is noted for criticism of President George W. Bush and the federal government’s response after Hurricane Katrina. He has also compared the world’s fascination with his wife, Kim Kardashian, to its interest in first lady Michelle Obama.

Regarding Ronald Reagan: Name-dropping among the presidential nomination seekers

Call it gilt by association: The 2016 presidential hopefuls have become serial name-droppers, hoping to boost their own appeal by borrowing the luster of others.

They’re sprinkling their speeches, interviews and tweets with mentions of everyone from the old standby, Ronald Reagan, to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., rapper Nicki Minaj and astronomer Galileo.

There’s a flip side, too: Republicans tossing out the names of Democratic foils to rile up the GOP faithful and gin up campaign contributions.

A look at who’s getting mentioned and why …

NAME DROPPED: Ronald Reagan.

BY: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and many others in the potential GOP field.

QUOTE: “I often joke that I know Ronald Reagan’s birthday because it’s my wedding anniversary. But truth be told, Tonette would tell you, I know our wedding anniversary because it’s Ronald Reagan’s birthday.” — Walker, with a reference to his wife.

WHY: Reagan is a hero to the Republican faithful. No GOP candidate can go wrong by cozying up to the Gipper, who is admired by Republicans both for his love of tax cuts and his tough-guy foreign policy stance.

NAME DROPPED: Abraham Lincoln.

BY: Jeb Bush, former Florida governor.

QUOTE: “America is a place where, as Lincoln dreamed, any person may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself and finally, to hire men to work for him. America, though discouraged, has not given up on the dream of Lincoln.”

WHY: Republicans revere Lincoln as the party’s first president and for his principled leadership. Bush, regarded with suspicion by some conservatives who think he’s too moderate, is out to paint himself with the same broad brush as the 16th president, who held the country together in dire times.

NAME DROPPED: Nicki Minaj.

BY: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

QUOTE: “I like Nicki Minaj. I think she’s very talented.”

WHY: Rubio, who has talked about his musical tastes in a number of interviews, is trying to send a message that he’s hip. That fits with his efforts to cast himself as the fresh, young candidate of tomorrow and a contrast to the tired politics of older rivals. Rubio also claims Pitbull as a friend, and can discuss the merits of Tupac vs. Biggie. (Bush isn’t completely ceding the hipness factor. He tweeted a photo of himself with Ludacris at the Georgia statehouse last month and wrote that the rapper’s foundation “does great work.”)

NAME DROPPED: Martin Luther King Jr.

BY: Rand Paul.

QUOTE: “Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as two starkly different American experiences that exist side-by-side. In one America, people experience the opportunity of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the other America, people experience a daily ugliness that dashes hope and leaves only the fatigue of despair.”

WHY: Paul invokes the civil rights leader as part of his call to address economic and racial inequality. He’s trying to appeal to a more inclusive swath of voters than the typical GOP coalition.


BY: Ted Cruz.

QUOTE: “Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be (that) it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.”

WHY: Cruz invoked the Renaissance man to defend his own skepticism about climate change, saying that those who use evidence to disprove “accepted scientific wisdom” have been unfairly tagged as unreasonable. (In fact, Galileo didn’t get in trouble for arguing that the Earth was round, but for the Copernican idea that the Earth revolved around the sun, which was against church teachings.)

NAME DROPPED: Phil Robertson.

BY: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

QUOTE: “When I stood up for Phil Robertson when he used his free speech rights, the media comes after you. As conservatives, we need to stand our ground, push back.”

WHY: Jindal tried to polish his conservative credentials by lining up with the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, who faced a backlash after he spoke out against homosexuality.

NAME DROPPED: Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, 7 months old.

BY: Her grandmother, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

QUOTE: “Unfortunately, too few of the children born in the United States and around the world today will grow up with the same opportunities as Charlotte. You shouldn’t have to be the granddaughter of a president or a secretary of state to receive excellent health care, education, enrichment, and all the support and advantages that will one day lead to a good job and a successful life.”

WHY: Clinton is framing her message of fighting for the middle class in a more approachable context in her second presidential bid. What better way than through the lens of a grandmother wanting the best for her new granddaughter?

NAMES DROPPED: President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, the Internal Revenue Service.

BY: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and other Republicans.

QUOTES: “All he cares now is about his legacy and his library _ the two L’s. The two L’s for Barack Obama is all that’s left _ legacy and library.” — Christie.

“The difference between President Obama and myself, he seems to think you can negotiate from a position of weakness.” — Paul.

“People like Hillary Clinton seem to think you measure success in government by how many people are dependent on the government.” — Walker.

“Over and over again, when we face impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know, compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain’t all that tough.” — Cruz.

WHY: Republicans can rouse an audience — and attract campaign contributions — by tossing out references to bogeymen like Obama, Clinton, the IRS and the president’s health care law.

Milwaukee Rep’s ‘Five Presidents’ successfully campaigns for the votes of politics lovers

The synopsis of Five Presidents is simple on paper: “Obliged to gather together on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral, four “exes” and one “current” (president) vent frustrations, revisit old grievances, and reveal the toll that it takes on any person foolish enough to seek the highest office in the land.”

If that sounds like your cup of tea, grab your seats fast before they’re taken by savvier policy wonks. But if you’re an everyday passerby for whom 90 minutes of inside-baseball about recent American history would be a slog, trust your gut. Five Presidents is an exemplary — perhaps even near-perfect — play for its intended audience, but there are no surprises in the wings that make it a strong American play in its own right.

Five Presidents presents itself as a work of dramatic fiction. In truth, it is really neither. Its dramatic potential is limited by the fact that we already know what has already to these presidents in the 20 years prior, and we know what will happen to them in the 20 years yet to come. And while playwright Rick Cleveland has assembled these gentlemen under false pretenses (there’s no evidence that the five presidents present at Nixon’s funeral shared more than a few moments together), much of his dialogue comes from actual conversations that the five of them have reportedly had elsewhere, reconfigured to fit into a conversation as close to truth as Cleveland can possibly get it.

The play is in a sense a false documentary, with an emphasis on what we could have heard, were these five men left alone in a room on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral.

Cleveland has chosen a singular moment to depict. When Nixon died in April 1994, Bill Clinton (Brit Whittle) has only been in office a little more than a year and is just coming to know what his predecessors faced. George H.W. Bush (Mark Jacoby) is still licking his wounds from losing his re-election campaign. Ronald Reagan (Steve Sheridan) is showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s and is unknowingly about to make his last major public appearance before being diagnosed with the disease in the fall. Jimmy Carter (Martin L’Herault) and Gerald Ford (Jeff Steitzer) have become close friends, despite their political differences, although his pardoning of Nixon haunts Ford still.

One of the play’s attempts at a narrative arc follows Ford deciding not to give a eulogy for Nixon, and the other presidents trying to convince him to change his mind. It doesn’t truly work as more than a rhetorical device to provoke the presidents into conversation (other efforts, such as a recurring bit where Reagan offers to speak and Bush tries to talk him out of it, or the constant sniping between the conquering Clinton and vanquished Bush, are slightly more effective and interesting to watch), but it does get those conversations flowing. 

The presidents spend most of the play rehashing foreign and domestic policies, along with each others’ individual flaws and foibles, and it’s to Cleveland’s credit that there’s enough candidness thrown in that it doesn’t usually feel like a history lesson. He also throws in a number of forward-looking zingers that feel superfluous — a gag about how Clinton cheats (at golf, for now), a lengthy aside about how Bush’s son George Jr. can scarcely manage the oil business or a baseball team, let alone Texas (little did we know, etc.) and a cringingly pedantic discussion of whether a black man or a woman will join their ranks first. 

Director Mark Clements has done an exemplary job of shaping this work of pseudo-documentary into a production well-worthy of a Milwaukee Rep stage. Just make sure you vote — with your pocketbook — according to your conscience.

The Rep goes behind closed White House doors

It’s rare when every living U.S. president gets together in a room. In the nation’s history, it’s only happened a handful of times, when either political obligation or tragedy summons the country’s current and former commanders in chief to the same physical location. 

It’s the sort of thing that gets you wondering: What passes for small talk in a room full of presidents?

That’s the question that led Rick Cleveland to write Five Presidents, the world premiere opening this month at the Milwaukee Rep. The play takes place on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral, April 27, 1994, when the five remaining living presidents — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton — assembled to pay respects.

Cleveland’s been a playwright for years, but he’s best known for his TV work on such shows as Six Feet Under, House of Cards and The West Wing — the latter of which marks the origin point for Five Presidents. While working on the show’s first season, he came across Shadow, the then-recently released book by Bob Woodward about those same five presidents, and he was struck by its cover photo depicting them at Nixon’s funeral. 

The idea of writing a play about that moment lodged in his mind and grew richer as time passed and more details about the presidents’ lives were revealed. “In 1994, when you see that photograph and Clinton’s on the cover,” Cleveland says, “we don’t know anything about Monica Lewinsky. … You can barely believe (George W. Bush) will be elected governor of Texas, let alone president. … You have no idea that an African-American is going to get elected president in (14) more years.”

But the play might still be gestating if Cleveland hadn’t bumped into Mark Clements. Clements had directed a play of Cleveland’s when he was the artistic director of Derby Playhouse in the U.K. When the two sat down for lunch in the winter of 2012, Clements asked if Cleveland had any ideas for a play. The Rep commissioned him to write Five Presidents shortly afterward.

Cleveland says the play has evolved steadily over the years, but one thing that’s stayed constant is a dedication to presenting these five men as authentically as possible. The Washington pols he befriended during his TV career served as benchmarks for accuracy: Would he be embarrassed to invite former press secretary Dee Dee Myers to see the play, or U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer?

“I want to write a play that if they see it, they’ll go, ‘That’s credible. I can believe that would be discussed, or happen.’”

That’s why most of the play’s dialogue comes from actual conversations between the presidents on stage, albeit not from that exact date. “They have said it to somebody else, or they may have said it another day,” Cleveland says, “but they said it.” 

The play’s behind-closed-doors nature also allows Cleveland to show sides of the presidents that they don’t expose to the general public and to bring up grievances new and old. Clinton, for example, is a Southern Democrat who doesn’t fit in with any of the other presidents except Carter — whom he’s recently snubbed by sending Nixon on diplomatic missions instead. Carter is still upset about the Iranian hostage crisis, which cost him his election and was wrapped up 20 minutes after Reagan’s inauguration. Bush is still stunned by his electoral loss too, only a little more than a year earlier.

It’s a mix of conflicts that Cleveland says coalesced into an acclaimed run with the Arizona Theatre Company, co-producing the world premiere with the Rep. Watching the play develop there, Cleveland says he has a few tweaks to make for the Milwaukee run. He also has a sense of why the play’s been so successful — and it isn’t, he says, about the quality of the play at all. 

“It’s a nonpartisan portrayal of five men who have only been portrayed in a partisan way. … I think what the audience is finding so applause-worthy is that this is not the politics that they’re going home to and watching on Fox News or MSNBC or CNN. This is a more empathetic portrayal.”


The Milwaukee Rep’s world premiere of Five Presidents runs through April 5 at 108 E. Wells St. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. weekdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets start at $20 and can be ordered at 414-224-9490 or

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Bush, Reagan, Nixon books burned at Washington library

Biographies of George Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon accounted for most of the dozen books burned in a fire at the main public library in Tacoma, Washington.

However, library workers don’t think the motive for the Oct. 18 fire was political. It was set in the American History section.

KING reported that Sharon Sailly of Tacoma pleaded not guilty on Oct. 20 to an arson charge and was ordered jailed on $500,000 bail.

Court papers say she poured lighter fluid on the books and started the fire because she had an issue with a librarian.

The fire forced about 250 patrons to evacuate the downtown library. 

Presidential checklist: jockeying for position

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.

A look at who’s doing what:

NONDENIAL DENIAL: Cagey words that cloak presidential ambitions, none too convincingly.


Biden: “If I decide to run, believe me, this would be the first guy I talk to. But that decision hasn’t been made, for real. And there’s plenty of time to make that.” April, CBS, in joint interview with President Barack Obama.

Clinton: “I haven’t made up my mind. I really have not.” — December, ABC.

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

O’Malley: “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, speaking to reporters in Baltimore.


Bush: “I can honestly tell you that I don’t know what I’m going to do.” — His standard disclaimer. Says he’ll decide by end of year whether to run. One factor in his decision: Whether he can run an optimistic campaign and avoid the “mud fight” of politics.

Christie: “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.

Cruz: “My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate.” — His standard disclaimer

Jindal: “My honest answer is I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2016.” — February, speaking to press while in Washington for governors meeting.

Paul: “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.” — March 9, Fox News.

Perry: “I don’t know whether I’m going to run for the presidency. I’m going to spend the time in preparation.” — April, in Ohio.

Rubio: “It’s something I’ll consider at the end of this year.” — May, on ABC. Does he feel ready to be president? “I do, but I think we have other people as well.” 

Ryan: “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, CBS.

Santorum: “I don’t know if I can do this. It’s just tough.” — April, AP interview. Timing of decision? “A year at least, probably.”

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

WRITING A BOOK: The perfect stage-setter for a campaign season, just ask Barack Obama (“The Audacity of Hope,” 2006; “Dreams from My Father,” 2004)


Biden: No, not since before 2008 election.

Clinton: Yes, “Hard Choices” due for release June 10.

Cuomo: Yes, coming in 2014.

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


Bush: Yes, on immigration.

Christie: No.

Cruz: Yes, book deal disclosed by his agent in April.

Jindal: Not since before 2012 election.

Paul: No, not since just before the 2012 election.

Perry: Not since before 2012 election.

Rubio: Yes, coming in late 2014 from the publisher of his 2012 memoir.

Santorum: Yes, “Blue Collar Conservatives” released in late April, says: “Do Republicans really care less about the person at the bottom of the ladder than Democrats do? To be painfully honest, I would have to say in some ways ‘yes.””

Ryan: Yes, coming in 2014.

Walker: Yes, out in fall 2013.

GO TO IOWA: Its caucuses are the opening act of the nomination contest.


Biden: Yes, spoke at Sen. Tom Harkin’s fall 2013 steak-fry fundraiser, a must-stop for many Democrats seeking to compete in the leadoff caucuses. Then in May, attended party for Iowans who came to Washington for annual lobbying trip. Raised money for Iowa congressional candidate Jim Mowrer. Schmoozed with Iowa power brokers during 2013 inauguration week in Washington.

Clinton: No, avoiding big primary/caucus states.  But Ready for Hillary is mobilizing for her in the state.

Cuomo: No.

O’Malley: Yes, headlined Harkin’s 2012 fundraiser.


Bush: Yes, in 2012.

Christie: Yes, in 2012. More travel driven by politics in the cards now that he’s chairman of Republican Governors Association for 2014 election year.

Cruz: Yes, four visits in eight months.

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

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

Perry: Yes, third trip since November coming up: He’s to campaign for Gov. Terry Branstad in late spring. Visited Des Moines suburbs and Davenport in February, meeting GOP activists and attending an event with business leaders sponsored by Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. Met Branstad and addressed Des Moines crowd of 400 in November.

Rubio: Yes, just days after 2012 election, but has been largely holding off on a new wave of trips to early voting states. That’s changing.

Ryan: Yes, was keynote speaker for Iowa GOP’s big fundraising dinner in Cedar Rapids in April. Main speaker at governor’s annual birthday fundraiser in November 2013, in first visit since 2012 campaign.

Santorum: Yes, recent visit with strategists and media. August 2013 speech to conservative Christians in state where he won the 2012 caucuses. Screened his new Christmas movie in Iowa in November.

Walker: Yes, fundraiser last year.

GO TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: Nation’s first primary comes after Iowa and is just as important.


Biden: Yes, raised money for three Democrats in March visit for job-training event. Quipped: “I’m here about jobs — not mine.”

Clinton: No. But Ready for Hillary has sent people there this year.

Cuomo: No.

O’Malley: Yes, spoke at Democratic Party dinner in November. Also spoke at 2012 convention of New Hampshire Democrats.


Bush: No.

Christie: Yes, three times in 2012.

Cruz: Yes, three times since August.

Jindal: Yes, keynote speech to local Republican organization in March, headlined state GOP fundraiser in 2013, visited twice in 2012.

Paul: Yes, addressed Freedom Summit in April. Won straw poll at March meeting of Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua. Several visits last year.

Perry: No.

Rubio: Yes, splashy debut in May, first visit of the 2016 season, headlining fundraisers, meeting local officials, giving interviews. Multiple visits before 2012 election.

Ryan: Yes, headlined Manchester fundraiser in February for former House colleague. Canceled October 2013 visit because of government shutdown.

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

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

DON’T FORGET SOUTH CAROLINA: First Southern primary and big in its own right.


Biden: Yes. In May, gave commencement speech at University of South Carolina and headlined Democratic fundraiser, first visit since he spoke at state party’s annual fundraiser a year earlier. Several earlier visits since 2009.

Clinton: No, but things are stirring. At a May meeting in Columbia partly sponsored by Ready for Hillary, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine urged Democratic women to “think about pledging your support right now” to ensure she has “millions of us ready to take the field with her” if she runs.

Cuomo: No.

O’Malley: Yes, 2013 speech to party activists.


Bush: Yes, 2012 speech.

Christie: Yes, helped Mitt Romney raise money in 2012.

Cruz: Yes, speech at The Citadel military college in April was third visit in a year, following event with religious conservatives in November and speech to annual state GOP dinner last May.

Jindal: Yes, third visit in a year coming in June, as keynote speaker at state GOP’s biggest gathering, the Silver Elephant dinner.

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

Perry: Yes, two-day visit in December 2013, addressed state GOP. In August, raised money for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign.

Rubio: Yes, headlined 2012 Silver Elephant dinner.

Ryan: Yes, in 2012 campaign.

Santorum: Yes, April GOP event at The Citadel military college, where two sons are cadets. Campaigned in April 2013 for Curtis Bostic in GOP House runoff race; Bostic lost.

Walker: Yes, attended August fundraiser for Haley, who came to Wisconsin to campaign for him in 2012 recall vote.

GO ABROAD: Helps to give neophytes foreign policy cred, and Israel is a touchstone for U.S. politicians.


Biden: You bet. Visited Ukrainian capital in April to symbolize U.S. commitment to new government in its struggle against pro-Russian insurgents and threatening signals from Moscow. Brazil coming up in June. Long at forefront of Obama administration’s diplomatic maneuvers with Kiev. Sent to Poland and Lithuania in March to reassure NATO allies anxious about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during first term.

Clinton: Another globe-trotter, nearly 1 million miles as secretary of state. 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.

Cuomo: Not much lately. Israel twice in 2002.

O’Malley: Yes. Israel in 2013 this year for a second time. Also Denmark, Ireland, France, Brazil and El Salvador in 2013. Asia in 2011, Iraq in 2010.


Bush: Yes, usually several overseas trips a year. Three times to Israel since 1980s.

Christie: Yes, Israel and Jordan in 2012.

Cruz: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012, again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.

Jindal: January 2014 trade and investment mission to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, first time overseas as governor. Canada in August 2013 to speak to oil industry about his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Paul: Yes, Israel and Jordan in 2013.

Perry: 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.

Rubio: Yes, visited the Philippines, Japan and South Korea in January, foreign policy speech in London in early December and Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Afghanistan in February 2013. Also went to Israel after 2010 election to Senate.

Ryan: Yes, Middle East during congressional career; visited troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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

Walker: Yes, China in 2013 trade mission.

MEET THE MONEY: To know donors now is to tap them later.


Biden: Yes, actively fundraising for Democratic committees and candidates in 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.

Clinton: Yes, can tap deep well of Democratic and activist money. Raises money for Clinton foundation. Bundlers such as Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban have signaled support. Ready for Hillary super PAC raised more than $4 million in 2013 and $1.7 million in first three months of 2014. Worked fundraising circuit to help Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for governor in Virginia and Bill de Blasio’s mayoral bid in New York City.

Cuomo: Flush coffers for 2014 governor’s race.

O’Malley: Yes, in December ended his year as finance chairman for the Democratic Governors Association and is one of the party’s top fundraisers.


Bush: Yes, longtime connections on Wall Street and beyond. Flew to Las Vegas in March to meet GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson. In February, his short video for GOP fundraiser at Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate was a bigger hit than 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.

Christie: Yes, became GOP governors chairman in November, giving him regular access to the party’s top national donors. In that capacity, has already met donors in Idaho, Vermont, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts and Utah. Was one of a handful of high-profile Republicans to meet with Adelson in Las Vegas at his resort casino in late March.  One of three prospective candidates who attended Mitt Romney’s retreat with major party donors in Utah in June 2013.

Cruz: Yes, met in March with top California conservative donors and keynoted Trump fundraiser. Has list of potential donors that’s still growing after he collected more than 1.5 million signatures for the online petition “Don’tFundObamaCare,” which he began in 2013.

Jindal: Yes, met leading GOP donors in New York City, as most GOP prospects do over time.  Among prospective candidates who visited Iowa GOP donor Bruce Rastetter’s farm in August 2013 for annual fundraiser for the governor.

Paul: Yes, headlined luncheon in April at Boston-area equity firm led by Romney’s former national finance chairman and Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, an event that drew together the 2012 presidential candidate’s inner circle. Also attended Romney’s 2013 Utah retreat. Has met GOP donors in New York City.

Perry: Yes, has proven an effective fundraiser, both from grassroots activists and mainstream Republicans. 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.

Rubio: Yes, aggressive national fundraising outreach, including trips to New York and California to meet potential donors. Raised more money last year than potential rivals Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. 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.

Ryan: Yes, attracts Wall Street interest, attended Romney’s 2013 Utah retreat, has money connections from 2012 campaign.

Santorum: 2012 shoestring campaign was largely fueled by a super political action committee to which Republican donor Foster Friess gave more than $2 million.

Walker: Yes. Addressed Republican Jewish Coalition at a Las Vegas gathering in March where main attraction was Adelson, who’s looking where to place his bets in GOP field. Headlined 2013 fundraisers in New York and Connecticut.

NETWORK LIKE MAD: Taking their case to ideologues, activists and party heavyweights who hold great sway in nomination race.


Biden: And how. Says he plans to campaign in more than 100 races in the 2014 election. Meets regularly with former Senate colleagues and congressional Democrats. 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, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. Speaks regularly to special interests.

Clinton: Steady presence now on speaking circuit, delivering paid speeches to industry groups and conferences and appearing before a number of groups with ties to the Democratic coalition.

Cuomo: Sparingly. Rarely leaves New York.

O’Malley: 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.


Bush: Doing more this year politically after a long period of “a little self-restraint.” Already a GOP establishment favorite. Recent travels to Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Endorsed GOP establishment favorites in North Carolina Senate and California governor primaries. Skipped Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after giving keynote speech to the influential group a year earlier.

Christie: Yes, vigorous outreach now as the new Republican Governors Association chairman. Also spoke in March to Conservative Political Action Conference, which snubbed him last year. Addressed Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting in Las Vegas, spending a full day with top donors and GOP operatives.

Cruz: Yes, vigorously. Spoke by video to National Rifle Association’s April leadership forum. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after landing the group’s coveted keynote role in 2013. Has engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives in Texas and beyond; 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.

Jindal: Big time and small time, far and wide. Giving May commencement address at Liberty University in Virginia, a familiar stop for prospective candidates, then South Carolina speech in June. Addressed NRA annual leadership forum in April, 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, supporting Republican candidates and promoting achievements. Has close ties with social conservatives. Created political action committee to help conservative candidates running for Congress, giving him continued opportunities to network nationally.

Paul: Yes, and now roaming freely beyond tea party tent. Had private audience in April with Romney’s 2012 campaign advisers, is helping Republicans across political spectrum, including moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and has pitched in with party leaders to heal divisions from last campaign. In April brought message of unity to state GOP convention in Maine, where a struggle over delegates created raw tensions between GOP establishment and libertarian or tea party supporters of his father in 2012 campaign. Generated buzz and won symbolic straw poll at Conservative Political Action Conference in March.

Perry:  Yes, spoke at 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-pitching tour in various states helps make connections.

Rubio: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused lately on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Well-received speech to Conservative Political Action Conference in March. In Virginia governor’s race, campaigned for Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who lost.

Ryan: Yes, prime networker as 2012 vice presidential candidate; now helping fellow House members raise money.

Santorum: Addressed NRA convention in April; speeches to groups around the country, including Conservative Political Action Conference. His Christian-themed film company is his calling card with religious conservatives.

Walker: 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 in September 2013.

HOG THE TV: Achieving national recognition by sermonizing on the Sunday news shows, or going for soft questions and easy laughs on late-night TV.


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

Clinton: No. But late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed her in March. Appeared with Obama on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in January to talk about tenure as secretary of state; gave interview to Barbara Walters late in 2013.

Cuomo: No. Prefers radio.

O’Malley: Getting back in the swing. January 2014 Sunday news show appearance on CNN was first in months, followed by CBS in February.


Bush: Blanketed the five Sunday shows one day in March 2013 to plug his book on immigration, a few appearances other times.

Christie: Not so much since traffic scandal surfaced. Before that, liked to cut up on late-night TV. Four Sunday news shows after his 2013 re-election.

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

Jindal: No, only a couple of Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election.

Paul: Leader of the chattering pack with more than a dozen Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election, including one in April from New Hampshire. Frequent guest on news networks, especially Fox.

Perry: Raising his profile lately, making several national TV appearances while starring in flood of media spots in California designed to persuade businesses based there to move to Texas. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” in May: “I’m going to be across the country talking about red-state versus blue-state policies. Hopefully engaged in a good, thoughtful, winsome conversation about how do we make America more competitive.”

Rubio: Staying on par with most rivals in Sunday news show appearances, did one from New Hampshire in May. Blanketed all five Sunday shows one day in April 2013 to talk about immigration, before he dropped the subject. Frequent guest on news networks.

Ryan: Many Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. Occasional guest on network news.

Santorum: Yes, promoting his new book. Plugged his Christmas movie on “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.

Walker: Already on the Sunday news show scoreboard for 2014. Half dozen or so Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. Also, Piers Morgan, Lou Dobbs, more national TV interviews.

ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING: For voters who want to support doers, not just talkers.


Biden: Leading Obama’s review of federal job-training programs, prime player in U.S. response to Ukrainian crisis. His office co-chaired a White House task force to address sexual assault on campuses. Point man on gun control, which failed. Negotiated fiscal cliff deal.

Clinton: Record as secretary of state, senator and first lady. Recent initiatives to help children’s health and education and status of women.

Cuomo: 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, Connecticut, school massacre. Led New York’s effort to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. Minimum wage boost, on-time budgets, teacher standards.

O’Malley: Toughened gun laws, repealed death penalty, saw voters approve gay marriage after he got behind legislation to approve it, set up a framework to develop offshore wind power, won legislative approval in April of minimum wage increase, a 2014 priority.


Bush: As Florida governor, revamped state educational system, cut taxes, managed state through hurricanes.

Christie: Won November 2013 re-election, becoming first Republican to earn more than 50 percent of New Jersey vote in quarter-century. Led state’s response to Superstorm Sandy. Agreed to expand state’s Medicaid program under the new 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.

Cruz: Leading force in dispute that partly shut the government, 21-hour Senate speech against Obama’s health law. Argued before U.S. Supreme Court nine times, with eight of those coming while he was Texas’ longest-serving solicitor general, between 2003 and 2008.

Jindal: Privatized much of Louisiana’s Medicaid program, shrank public hospital system, signed statewide voucher program that covers private school tuition for certain students. Signed abortion restrictions, fought liberalization of adoption law, making it impossible for gay couples to adopt jointly. Hurricane and Gulf oil spill disaster response.

Paul: One-man, nearly 13-hour Senate filibuster to protest drone policy put him at forefront of civil liberties debate.

Perry: “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 through new abortion restrictions.

Rubio: Broker of Senate immigration overhaul, though he’s gone quiet on the issue. Early leader of effort to link financing of health care law to government shutdown. Working with anti-abortion groups on Senate version of bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Ryan: Negotiated December 2013 bipartisan budget deal that scaled back across-the-board spending cuts, drawing contrast with potential rivals who opposed it. Budget-hawk record to be judged on. Emerging as influential moderate on immigration.

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

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

TAKE A NATIONAL STAND: Effective state governance is nice but leaders must build national stature on issues of the day.


Biden: Eclectic. Guns, violence against women, gay rights, veterans.

Clinton: Eclectic. 2013 speeches focused on the economy, housing, opportunities for women, voting rights.

Cuomo: 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.

O’Malley: The liberal checklist: more spending on education, infrastructure, transportation; supports same-sex marriage, immigration reform, repealing death penalty, pushes environmental protections.


Bush: Unapologetic proponent of Common Core education standards and immigration changes opposed by many in GOP. 

Christie: Moderate on the reach and functions of government; bipartisanship.

Cruz: Anti-Obama’s health care law, pushes broader tea party agenda.

Jindal: A record of privatization to show he means government should be trimmed, happy to carry a social conservative banner.

Paul: Tea-party plus, with a libertarian streak that places him to the left of rivals on some issues, to the right on others. Fiscal conservative, criticizes surveillance state. Says GOP should back off on pushing state voter ID laws offensive to blacks. Health law scold. 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.

Perry: 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.

Rubio: 2014 initiative on poverty calls for federal wage supplements for some low-wage workers instead of earned income tax credit. Economy, abortion, tea party fiscal conservatism; immigration liberalization if he decides to get back to it. Another voice against health care law. Has become a leading GOP voice in foreign policy, pressing for stronger U.S. action in geopolitical hot spots. On climate change: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”

Ryan: Cutting spending, taking on entitlements, rolling back Obama’s health law. Anti-poverty initiative this year.

Santorum: Social conservative activism goes way back. Focus on blue-collar economic opportunity. Speaking against libertarian streak in GOP, a “strain of conservatism that has no basis in conservatism.” Book calls climate change “hyped-up crisis.”

Walker: Fiscal stewardship, from a GOP point of view. Tough guy against the unions and liberal defenders of the status quo. Says GOP in Congress is the party of no.

BAGGAGE TO CHECK: It’s never too early to deal with skeletons in the closet; rivals will be rattling them soon enough.


Biden: Flubs, fibs, age. Deflection: “I am who I am.” Saddled by Obama’s low approval ratings.

Clinton: Benghazi, Libya; polarizing when political, age. GOP wants to pin blame on her for vulnerability of U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that came under deadly attack in 2012. In long-confidential documents from Bill Clinton’s administration, advisers urged her to “be real” and “humanize” herself, revealing concerns about her authenticity as a public figure.

Cuomo: New York economy is dragging, his poll numbers have sunk, went through public and bitter divorce with Kerry Kennedy, daughter of late Sen. Robert Kennedy, in 2005.

O’Malley: 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. Contraband- and drug-smuggling scheme at state-run Baltimore City Detention Center that resulted in 44 people being indicted has state lawmakers looking to make reforms.  Has record of raising taxes that could be challenged by less liberal Democrats, never mind Republicans.


Bush: The Bush factor. Does the country want a Bush dynasty after presidents George H. W. and George W.? Courting trouble with the right with positions on education and remarks in April that people who cross into the U.S. illegally are doing so as an “act of love” for their families.

Christie: If you have to declare “I am not a bully,” you’ve got a problem. Apologized in January 2014 for highway lane closures apparently ordered by his aides as retribution against a mayor who did not endorse him for re-election. Also fired his deputy chief of staff and denied knowledge of the machinations.  Episode deepened questions about what Christie, or those around him, will do to win, and contributed to a significant drop in his poll standings. Investigations continue.

Cruz: Reputation as a hotheaded upstart, 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: Promised last summer to renounce Canadian citizenship but hasn’t.

Jindal: Ambitious plan to replace state’s personal and corporate taxes with higher sales taxes flopped, delivered dud of a speech when given juicy platform of responding to Obama’s first presidential address to Congress in 2009. Deflection: Poking fun at himself. Jindal administration’s award of a $200 million Medicaid contract is under investigation by state and federal grand juries.

Paul: Dear old dad: Must move beyond Ron Paul’s fringe reputation. Bridge-burning in Congress endears him to tea party, could bite him otherwise. Deflection: GOP outreach to minorities. 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.”

Perry: “Oops!” Memories of his stumbling 2012 campaign, a quick progression from a front-runner to flameout. Deflection: Owns up to his “botched efforts” in last campaign. Also a potential drag: a grand jury investigation in Austin into whether he abused power by cutting off state financing for an office of public corruption prosecutors led by a Democrat who refused to resign after being convicted of drunken driving.

Rubio: Rift with 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 the health law. And stop talking about immigration. Response to Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech was remembered only for his clumsy reach for water. Deflection: Made fun of himself.

Ryan: Budget axe cuts both ways — catnip to conservatives but people want their Medicare. Carries stigma of 2012 election loss as running mate. Tea party not happy with his late 2013 budget deal. Comments in March about cultural “tailspin” in inner cities struck some as veiled racism. Deflection: Called his remark “inarticulate.”

Santorum: Overshadowed by newer conservative figures. 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. New book contains provocative passages for future rivals to dredge up.

Walker: Some things that give him huge appeal with GOP conservatives — taking on unions, most notably — would whip up Democratic critics in general election. Wisconsin has lagged in job creation. Release of emails in February shed light on 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.

RUN SHADOW CAMPAIGN: One way to run without running is to have a political action committee to promote ideas or other candidates for office, or to hire advisers who can switch to a campaign when the time comes.


Biden: Constrained by his current job, but tapped longtime adviser and former lobbyist Steve Ricchetti to be his new chief of staff; maintains close contact with political advisers past and present.

Clinton: Ready for Hillary super PAC set up by supporters is laying groundwork, so are others. Several old Clinton hands are advising the group, including Craig T. Smith and Harold Ickes.

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

O’Malley: Set up a PAC called O’Say Can You See and hired two people for fundraising and communications.


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

Christie: Republican Governors Association 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.  But the shadow of the traffic scandal still hangs over his shadow campaign.

Cruz:  Has 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 logistical support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Ending Spending PAC. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz’s summer anti-health-law trip around Texas and country.

Jindal: Created Washington-based nonprofit, America Next, in October 2013 to push policy ideas nationally. For executive director, tapped Jill Neunaber, who worked on Romney’s presidential campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. In March created PAC to help conservative candidates.

Paul: 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. Is starting to build teams on the ground in most states.

Perry: Created Americans for Economic Freedom PAC in fall 2013 to raise his profile again, help him test the waters and broadcast ads promoting Republican leadership around the country. Group used more than $200,000 left over from the PAC that raised millions for his 2012 campaign.

Rubio: Beginning more aggressive travel to early voting states; has lagged potential rivals on that front. Ramping up in other ways, too: Shuffled his staff and directed political resources of his Reclaim America PAC to three big Senate midterm races this year, one of them the GOP primary in Iowa.

Ryan: His Prosperity Action PAC.

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

Walker: Consults with top Republican governor strategists such as Phil Musser and Nick Ayers.

GET WITH IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA: A must for spreading ideas, poking competitors, raising money, organizing events and showing a personal side, though often a very canned version.


Biden: Launched Instagram account in April. Not active on Facebook, occasional contributor to his office’s vigorous Twitter account.

Clinton: More than 1 million followers on Twitter, her preferred social media outlet.

Cuomo: Few if any personal tweets; Facebook also generated primarily by staff.

O’Malley: 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.


Bush: Tweets and posts many Wall Street Journal stories, education thoughts and some Bush family doings.

Christie: 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.

Cruz: Active on Facebook and Twitter, much content is pumped out by staff.

Jindal: 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.

Paul: 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.

Perry: 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.

Rubio: 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.

Ryan: King of Facebook among potential rivals in both parties, with nearly 4.9 million likes. Seeks $10 donations for “Team Ryan” bumper stickers for his PAC and kisses a fish. Posts photo of Obama with his feet up on Oval Office desk. Commanding presence on Twitter, too, via an account associated with his PAC and another as congressman.

Santorum: Active on Twitter and Facebook.

Walker: Posts vigorously on Facebook and on his Twitter accounts. Many exclamation points. “Glad USDA is keeping cranberries on school menus. I drink several bottles of cranberry juice each day!” And, “Green Bay Packers signing Julius Peppers to a 3-year deal is HUGE!” Promotes policy achievements and his TV appearances, reflects on sports, pokes Obama.

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Josh Lederman and Nancy Benac in Washington; Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland; Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa; Steve Peoples in Boston; Michael Virtanen in Albany, New York; Will Weissert in Austin, Texas; and Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this report.


Police: Husband of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris dead of apparent suicide

Police in Sarasota, Fla., reported early today (Nov. 19) that the husband of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was found dead of an apparent suicide in the couple’s home.

Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge said Harris’ husband, Anders Ebbeson, committed suicide.

Officers were called to the home after 7:30 a.m.

A news conference followed at the police station. The Rev. William Hild of Sarasota First Baptist Church also said that Ebbeson had taken his own life.

Ebbeson was a Swedish businessman. Hild, the family’s pastor, said Ebbeson suffered from health issues in recent years.

Harris served in the U.S. House and also as Florida’s Secretary of State. She became a national household name for her controversial role in recounting the 2000 presidential vote in Florida, which delivered the White House to George W. Bush. Harris was a major supporter of the Republican president.

Harris retired from politics after losing a U.S. Senate race to Democrat Bill Nelson in 2006.

Former President George H.W. Bush a witness at same-sex wedding in Maine

Former President George H.W. Bush was an official witness at the same-sex wedding of two longtime friends, according to an ABC News report.

Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, attended the ceremony for Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen on Sept. 21, spokesman Jim McGrath told ABC News. The former president signed the marriage license as a witness.

The AP reported that Bush was seated in a wheelchair, with a stack of papers on his lap and his left hand poised with a pen in a photograph of the occasion. One bright red sock and one bright blue one peek out below the cuffs of his blue slacks.

The 41st president has deep ties to the area where Thorgalsen and Clement own a general store called HB Provisions.

“This has been a wonderful wedding experience for us and we were honored to have President and Mrs. Bush not only in attendance but also happy to sign our license,” Thorgalsen, who is with her wife on their honeymoon in London, told ABC News.

“As Nancy Sosa, our officiant, said, ‘God did not make a love that is wrong.’ If we can make a difference in the world with our wedding and marriage, we are thrilled,” she added, according to the ABC news report.

One of Bush’s sons, former President George W. Bush, opposed same-sex marriage and in 2004 announced his support for a proposed federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. His wife, Laura Bush, and their daughter Barbara Bush support gay marriage, as does his former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, considered a potential presidential candidate in 2016, has said same-sex marriage is an issue best left to the states to decide.

PHOTO: Former President George H.W. Bush at the wedding of Helen Thorgalsen and Bonnie Clement. Courtesy: Facebook/Helen Thorgalsen

Rove can imagine a GOP presidential candidate backing marriage equality

GOP strategist Karl Rove says he can imagine a Republican candidate in the next presidential campaign supporting gay marriage.

The statement from the former adviser to President George W. Bush appears to acknowledge that opposition to gay marriage has waned in some conservative circles.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced last week that he now supports gay marriage after learning one of his sons was gay.

Rove’s comment was part of a panel discussion on ABC’s “This Week.” He did not elaborate.

The Supreme Court is taking up two cases this week involving same-sex marriage. Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that most Republicans still oppose gay marriage and noted that 30 states have defined marriage between a man and a woman.