There are more than 1,100 days until Election Day 2016, but just by looking at Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton, it’s as if campaign season is already in full swing.
In the past two weeks, it has seemed as if Team Clinton can’t wait for presidential campaigning to begin. At the American Bar Association in San Francisco, she gave a speech about efforts to restrict voting rights around the country, using some of the fiercest political rhetoric heard from Clinton since she left the Obama administration earlier this year.
“We’ve seen a sweeping effort across our country to construct new obstacles to voting, often undercover and addressing a phantom epidemic of election fraud,” she said. “Now, not every obstacle is related to race. But anyone that says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention.”
She is planning a series of policy speeches. The New York Times has already assigned a reporter to cover Clinton full time.
“Suddenly it’s as if she’s the next president even if Barack Obama’s still president,” said Hardball’s Chris Matthews on Monday night.
Some analysts wonder if she’s coming out too far ahead of schedule.
“I am surprised in the first year that she is getting political this quickly,” NBC News political director Chuck Todd said during Meet The Press. He noted Clinton has high approval ratings, and that she risks lowering them by entering the fray so soon.
Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said he agreed. “I, as a strategist, am fairly floored that she has decided to enter the public fray so quickly.”
But Democrats aren’t alone in their angst. Enter New Jersey Gov. Christie.
The popular governor of deep-blue New Jersey (which picked Obama by 17 points in 2012) has also been making moves, trying to strike a balancing act of courting conservatives who will come out in force during the primaries, while also taking a centrist stance (for New Jersey voters for his upcoming gubernatorial race and 2016 general election voters).
This week he signed into law a bill that prohibits licensed therapists from attempting so-called gay conversion therapy on minors. But he also vetoed three key gun control bills.
Christie also took a jab at potential 2016 rivals Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky last week while speaking to a crowd at the Republican National Committee’s meeting in Boston. He said his re-election plan as governor can be used as a model for the GOP in 2016.
“I’m in this business to win. I don’t know why you’re in it…I think that we have some folks that believe that our job is to be college professors. Now college professors are fine, I guess. You know, college professors basically spout out ideas that nobody ever does anything about. For our ideas to matter, we have to win because, if we don’t win, we don’t govern. And if we don’t govern, all we do is shout into the wind. So I am going to do anything I need to do to win.”
“Clinton versus Christie would be the dream match-up for every political junkie this side of heaven,” Chris Matthews said. But no one wants to go to heaven right this minute.