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Pace of presidential prep picks up

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Just about everyone thinking about running for president is kicking it into gear now, slowpokes included.

For months, many prospective 2016 presidential candidates have been rubbing shoulders with donors, networking with party leaders, getting on TV and otherwise auditioning for the contest ahead, especially on the Republican side.

Their pace is picking up. A few are even admitting now what has been obvious for eons: They’re interested in the presidency, even if they aren’t ready to commit.

Others have avoided the usual pathways, for reasons that make sense to them even if their inscrutability exasperates others.  “This is the time to show a little self-restraint,” one of them, Jeb Bush, said back in November.

But that was then. He’s shed some of that restraint now.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s inscrutability has bottlenecked the Democratic contest because several may decide not to run if she does. Asked in March, for the umpteenth time, about what she’s going to do, she responded in her practiced coy fashion. “Give me your name and number,” she cracked to a college student imploring her to run. “Obviously, thinking about all kinds of decisions.”

But she’s been picking up her activities, too. Ready for Hillary, a super PAC, has been busy on her behalf in early organizing. The question remains: When will Hillary be ready for Hillary?

What’s clear is that springtime has arrived in 2016 presidential politics. Much more is going on since The Associated Press last took a broad look at who is doing what to get ready for a potential campaign.

Here’s a summary of the main players.

For the Democrats, they are Vice President Joe Biden; Clinton, the former secretary of state; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

For the Republicans: Bush, the former Florida governor; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

NONDENIAL DENIAL: Cagey words that cloak presidential ambitions, none too convincingly.

Democrats

Biden: “There may be reasons I don’t run, but there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run.” — February, CNN.

Clinton: “I haven’t made up my mind. I really have not.” — December, ABC.

Cuomo: “I’m sorry, I’m losing you. We have a technical difficulty. I’m running for governor of the state of New York.” — Seeming not to hear a question about his presidential intentions. February, Fox Business Network.

O’Malley: “No one ever goes down this road, I would hope, without giving it a lot of consideration and a lot of preparation and a lot of thought work, and so that’s what I’m doing.” — February.

Republicans

Bush: “I can honestly tell you that I don’t know what I’m going to do.” — His standard disclaimer.

Christie: “I am enormously flattered that folks would talk about me in my party as someone who they think could be a candidate for president. But I am absolutely in — nowhere near that consideration process.” — Jan. 9 news conference addressing the scandal over Fort Lee, N.J., traffic tie-ups.

Cruz: “My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate.” — His standard disclaimer

Jindal: “My honest answer is I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2016.” — February.

Paul: “We’re definitely talking about it, my family is talking about it. I truly won’t make my mind up until after the 2014 elections. But I haven’t been shy in saying we’re thinking about it.”  —March 9, Fox News.

Perry: “It’s a long way down the road.” — February, Iowa. Says he’ll decide in December.

Rubio: “That’s something that I’ll consider later in this year, early next year.” — March, NBC.

Ryan: “Jane and I are going to sit down in 2015 and give it the serious … conversation, consideration that are required for keeping our options open. But right now I have responsibilities in the majority in the House of Representatives that I feel I ought to attend to, and then I’ll worry about those things.” March, CBS.

Santorum: “I’m certainly looking at it pretty seriously.” March, Fox.

Walker: “I’m really focused on 2014, not getting ahead of the game. … You guys can predict all you want.” — January, CNN.

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