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Rand Paul rises, Jeb Bush jockeys: a big week for possible 2016 contenders (+video)

It was a week of serious maneuvering for Sen. Rand Paul, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and the others who could be presidential contenders in 2016. Who helped or hurt themselves the most?

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Maybe even more interesting, she'd beat Senator Rubio by an eye-popping 36 percentage points among Hispanics – a demographic that Republicans know they need to do better with, which is a big reason Rubio, whose parents are Cuban immigrants, has been considered a top-tier candidate.  

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Liz Marlantes covers politics for the Monitor and is a regular contributor to the Monitor's political blog, DC Decoder.

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As for the rest ... 

Rubio didn't exactly have a bad week (at least, not compared to his "water break" during his State of the Union response). Yet as the closest thing the GOP has to a "front-runner," he took some hits from his potential rivals. The biggest headache for Rubio was undoubtedly the presidential talk coming from his fellow Floridian, Bush – who could steal donors and supporters and, according to some, potentially even force Rubio to put his own ambitions on hold for another cycle or two (though we're not so sure about that).

Also not great for Rubio was the above-mentioned poll showing that he would lose Hispanics (as well as the vote overall) to Clinton. And while Rubio was quick to jump on the Paul bandwagon, joining his filibuster with a short speech quoting rappers Wiz Khalifa and Jay-Z – well, let's just say at this point, we think he's in danger of overdoing the pop-culture references. 

Representative Ryan had lunch with President Obama at the White House, reminding everyone of the crucial role he will play in any deficit-reduction deal that emerges between the White House and congressional Republicans. His profile will rise further later this month when he is set to release a new GOP budget proposal.

Governor Christie had a bigger week last week, with the very public "diss" he received from CPAC (which we'd argue was a net plus for him). Still, in that poll with Clinton, it's worth noting that he performed the best of all the Republicans tested. And he continued to bolster his outsider, blunt-talking credentials this week by scolding Washington over the sequester: "Seems to me it should be pretty easy to fix," he said. "Get everybody in a room and ... don't let them leave until you fix it."

Finally, Vice President Joe Biden didn't get as much attention as some of the other possible contenders, but then again, he was pretty much everywhere this week. Speaking about the administration's commitment to Israel before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Walking across the bridge in Selma, Ala., to commemorate the famous 1965 civil rights march. Quietly stopping by a dinner for hunters in his home state of Delaware. (On the other hand, this week also brought a Roger Ailes interview in which the Fox News chief called Mr. Biden "dumb as an ashtray.")

We agree with most pundits that it's hard to envision Biden and Clinton running against each other. But if she opts out, he appears to be getting ready.


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