At least 15 Republicans are weighing campaigns, with no clear front-runner. Contrast that with Clinton, who has solidified her Democratic support to a deeper extent than any candidate in recent memory.
There’s no indication that the reforms suggested by the national Republican party to protect the eventual nominee — fewer debates, friendlier moderators and a truncated primary calendar — have necessarily altered how potential candidates are thinking about campaigning against other Republicans. In fact, they already are jockeying to define themselves — and their opponents — in sharp terms.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is a prime example. Seeking to expand his base of support beyond tea party conservatives, Cruz, who has been working donors and elites aggressively, has routinely dismissed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in private conversations as the “Rudy Giuliani of this cycle,” multiple sources told POLITICO. (A Cruz adviser noted that the senator has often praised Christie.) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) denounced Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an establishment avatar, in a Senate floor speech last month over what turned out to be an Internet hoax, a photo that falsely identified the senator meeting with Islamic State militants. When outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry attacked Paul’s foreign policy views, Perry responded in kind.