(WASHINGTON) — The year 2016 might seem pretty far off, but as politicians head home for August recess, a slew of possible presidential hopefuls are making a mad dash for everyone’s favorite vacation destination: Iowa.
Here are seven signs the presidential race has already begun:
1. Destination Iowa
Normally, Iowa is only afforded the standard one governor and two senators, but for a window of time in August, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are all making a pilgrimage to the Hawkeye State. Though none of these prominent politicians has formally announced plans to run in 2016, touring around Iowa can never hurt one’s chances.
2. Tractor Rides with a Candidate
Though you might expect to find Rubio relaxing in Miami and mingling with constituents during his five-week vacation, he has actually kicked it off in the Midwest. Rubio showed up on Twitter Monday riding a tractor with none other than Republican Iowa Senate candidate Jodi Ernst.
Ernst attracted national attention earlier this year after calling President Obama a dictator and floating the idea of his impeachment.
Ernst also released a fairly controversial ad asserting that her experience castrating hogs gives her the know-how to cut pork in Washington.
Cruz recently told the Des Moines Register, “I think Jodi is one of the most exciting Senate candidates in the whole country, and I’m eager to do anything I can to help her get elected.”
3. Hoe-Down with a Big Donor
Cruz and Rubio both made the trek up to Iowa last weekend to attend the annual summer party of Iowa agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter. The two presumptive presidential hopefuls also spent time fundraising for Enrst while in the Hawkeye State.
Cruz said the timing of his visits to Iowa have been “separate and incidental,” in relation to the recent immigration crisis at the border and last year’s government shutdown.
4. Rand Paul Runs Away
Paul was campaigning with Republican Rep. Steve King in Iowa, and enjoying a summer barbeque, when two “DREAMers” confronted King about statements he made about undocumented children. Within 15 seconds of their arrival, Paul promptly abandoned his burger and fled the scene.
Paul apparently had to leave for a media engagement, which he must have been very eager to get to because he was still chewing on his food as he abruptly left the table.
Nothing says “I’m running for president” like dodging tough questions.
5. Rand Paul Attacks
Paul on Friday attacked Hillary Clinton on her wealth and how she handled the Benghazi, Libya, crisis as secretary of state. Paul referenced Clinton’s “dead broke” comments and asserted that she is “not fit to lead the country.”
While it is not uncommon for Republicans to attack Clinton, dragging her into the debate in Iowa certainly sets the stage for 2016.
6. Campaigning Like It’s 2016
Although the 2016 caucuses are more than a year away, the possible presidential hopefuls are certainly gearing up for the fight. With seven major Republicans making trips to Iowa throughout the month, it’s almost as if campaign season is in full swing.
Perry will be participating in 11 events in Iowa, and Paul will attend 10. Joined by Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum and Rubio, the 2016 crew looks to be racking up as many visits to the state as possible, solidifying their support, as well as their funding.
Perry, Santorum, Huckabee, Cruz and Jindal will also be speaking at the Family Leadership Summit starting Saturday in Ames, Iowa. The event is an opportunity for the possible candidates to appeal to social conservatives, along with head of the Family Leader and prominent social conservative Bob Vander Plaats.
7. Getting on Their Soapbox
The Des Moines Register Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair gives candidates the opportunity to appeal to Iowa voters well before the state’s caucuses. So far, Perry and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz have signed up to speak at the state fair.
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