Why? Because more is going on than you might think two years from the event.
To those who might run, 2016 is the day after tomorrow and there's no time to waste.
For almost a year, The Associated Press has been tracking movements and machinations of more than a dozen prospective presidential candidates.
They are, for the Democrats, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; for the Republicans, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
(Who would you like to see in the race? Vote now at grandhaventribune.com)
Latest twists and turns:
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 just want to get through this year, travel around the country, sign books, help in the midterm elections in the fall and then take a deep breath and kind of go through my pluses and minuses." — June, 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 year's end whether to run. One factor in his decision: Whether he can run an optimistic campaign and avoid the "mud fight" of politics.
Christie: "Yes, and later." — May, asked if he's thinking about running for president and when he'll decide, at a fiscal conference in Washington.
Cruz: "My focus is entirely on working for Texans in the U.S. Senate." — February. He said that not in Texas or in the Senate but in the important presidential primary state of South Carolina.
Jindal: "It's something that we're certainly thinking about and we're praying about. My wife and I, we won't make any decisions until after the November elections." — May, after addressing Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.
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'd be fibbing to you if I told you I knew what I'm going to be doing."— May, in Iowa. Says he'll decide in January.
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: "Janna 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," book tour follows.
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.
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.
Ryan: Yes, coming in 2014.
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.'"
Walker: Yes, out in fall 2013.
GO ABROAD: Helps to give neophytes foreign policy cred, and Israel is a touchstone for U.S. politicians.
Biden: You bet. Ukraine in June for inauguration of new president. Brazil, Colombia and Dominican Republic coming up. Eastern Europe in May. Ukrainian capital in April to symbolize U.S. commitment to new government in its struggle against pro-Russian insurgents and threatening signals from Moscow. 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. Oxford, England, for daughter's graduation in May.
Cuomo: Doesn't get around much. Israel twice in 2002.
O'Malley: Yes, considerable. Israel last year for a second time as governor; also visited there as Baltimore mayor. 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, Ukraine in May, meeting leaders of the protest movement that ousted pro-Russian president. Visited Israel, Ukraine, Poland and Estonia to meet various leaders on the same trip. Has been to Israel two other times since 2012, including as part of Senate Republican delegation that went 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.
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 that's changing with her new book. Prime-time ABC interview timed with book launch, and she'll be promoting it — and herself — in weeks to follow. Showed up for Barbara Walters' last taping of "The View" in May. Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed her at Arizona State University in March. Sat down with Walters, who named her the "Most Fascinating Person of 2013" in December. Appeared jointly with Obama on CBS's "60 Minutes" early in 2013. NBC dropped a planned miniseries about her under pressure both from allies and from Republicans.
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, now a mainstay on Sunday news shows. 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: Making many national TV appearances while starring in flood of media spots to persuade businesses in Democratic-led states 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. Facing massive state budget deficit, proposed slashing pension fund payments over the next year to balance budget.
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, eight of those 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 saw state create a third of net new jobs nationwide for 10 years ending in 2013, 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.
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: Age, Benghazi and the politics of being a Clinton. Republicans are already raising questions — if not innuendo — about her health. GOP strategist Karl Rove suggested she may have suffered health problems more serious than acknowledged in her concussion and hospitalization in 2012, bringing rebukes from her husband and advisers. Deflection: She laughed off Rove's comments and said she has no lingering effects from her "serious concussion." 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. Blamed state's budget mess on Democrats, creating some wear and tear on his reputation as a bipartisan figure.
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.