Hardball with Chris Matthews, 3/26/13, 5:58 PM ET

Matthews: The 2016 presidential campaign is getting underway

Chris Matthews shares his thoughts on the beginning of the 2016 campaign season, as major players on both side start solidifying their positions on various issues now.

The 2016 presidential campaign is getting underway

Updated

Let me finish tonight with this.

I have to tell you—it is something watching this 2016 presidential campaign get underway.

Don’t you love watching Bill Clinton doing his thing? There he is, out there, shaping the battlefield, rewarding old supporters, burying old opponents, sounding the bugle—get on board if you can; get out of the way if you can’t.

James Carville said it here this morning on msnbc: there’s never been such a prohibitive candidate for president so early on as Hillary Clinton is today. While that may be a bit of an overstatement—you’ve got to figure George Washington was a good bet after defeating the British—it’s not off by much.

My sense is the mere prospect of Hillary is enough to drive the Republicans helter-skelter. They’re running in all sorts of directions: Paul, Bush, Rubio, Christie—each of whom represents a totally different route for the party.

Don’t underestimate Rand Paul, by the way. He’s just the kind of candidate parties run when they’re up against someone like Hillary Clinton. When the Republicans couldn’t beat Lyndon Johnson after the Kennedy assassination, they ran Barry Goldwater. When the Democrats couldn’t beat Richard Nixon after he’d been to China, they ran George McGovern. It’s not that they didn’t believe in those men; they just didn’t believe they were the best bets to win.

So anything can happen, but ever since Hillary Clinton made her move on same-sex marriage, it’s been the political reality for both parties.

The 2016 presidential campaign is getting underway

Updated