Editorial: Believe it or not, 2016 is already here
We were listening to talk radio the other night and heard a conversation that initially left us depressed. The talkers were declaring President Obama’s tenure a giant disappointment, and they were already looking ahead to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign – leapfrogging right over the part where she actually decides whether to run. Voters, they said, must be prepared to demand specifics from her when she makes her inevitable return to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation campaign trail.
For Pete’s sake, we thought, it’s only 2013. Obama still has more than three years to go. It’s spring! Can’t this wait?
And yet, under the radar, quietly yet persistently, the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary is already well under way. Consider:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be in Manchester Friday at a fundraiser for state Senate Republicans, schmoozing with the very bigshots he’ll need if he runs for president.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is expected to speak in Concord later in the month at the GOP’s first-ever “Liberty Dinner.” At his side: Reince Priebus, the national party chairman.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida recently persuaded state lawmakers there to ditch their early presidential primary, thus restoring their delegate count, which was trimmed by national party officials after Florida moved up its election in 2008 in violation of the rules. This move, of course, also ingratiates Rubio with party poobahs in New Hampshire and Iowa, who insist (rightly!) on voting well before everyone else.
It also, inevitably, managed to create a cyberspace dustup, as Rubio’s detractors quickly disseminated comments of his from a 2006 publication in which he seemed to give New Hampshire the back of his hand:
“Currently, a small, non-diverse group of citizens (the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire) have a disproportionate impact on the nomination of presidential candidates. While these states provide the benefit of beginning the presidential election in small communities that can be easily traversed and thoroughly campaign, a larger and diverse state should follow them. Without such a bellwether state on the heels of Iowa and New Hampshire, many groups of Americans will be denied a voice in selecting the most qualified candidate.”
And that’s not the only 2016 game being played.
Vice President Joe Biden made sure to schmooze with New Hampshire dignitaries over the inauguration weekend back in January. (January!)
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, among the long list of Republicans allegedly considered as potential running mates by Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, has managed to keep herself remarkably in the national spotlight ever since.
Nevada legislators, meanwhile, are thinking about messing with their election dates in a way that would threaten New Hampshire. (Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.)
And finally, pollsters are already hard at work, pestering you and your neighbors by phone. Late last month, for instance, a New Hampshire poll found that Clinton was far ahead of other Democrats, including Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On the Republican side, Paul held a slim lead in the state over presumed heavy-hitters like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, not to mention some retreads from ’12. (Back so soon, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry?)
All of which led, of course, to the predictable fretting about the meaning – or meaninglessness – of such early polls.
Put it all together, and it makes the Scott-Brown-in-2014 story seem like old news already.
Ready or not, weary readers, the 2016 presidential campaign is already here.