Connect to share and comment

2016 already? The presidential race may have just started in Iowa

Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz were spotted in Iowa along with EMILY's List, an organization aimed at launching a female candidate for president.

Ricksantorum iowaEnlarge
Iowa was a who's-who of potential presidential candidates this weekend, including Rick Santorum. (JUSTIN SULLIVAN/AFP/Getty Images)

It may be 29 months away but the 2016 presidential campaign is already revving its engine.

At least if you live in Iowa.

Both parties held events there over the weekend highlighting just how important it is to win over the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

A conservative forum held at Iowa State University featured not one but two rumored presidential candidates.

Both Sen. Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, who narrowly won the 2012 GOP caucus in Iowa, headlined the event aimed at conservative Christians.

"I have a lot of faith still in the people of Iowa in 2016 and beyond to use their good judgment and do what no other state has the opportunity to do, which is to know the candidates," Santorum said.

"God bless each and every one of you for being here today and for your passion," Cruz proclaimed.

More from GlobalPost: Australian political candidate quits after mistaking Islam for a country

Santorum already appears to have started a full blown campaign in Iowa.

He traveled across the state this week in the same pickup truck (nicknamed the "Chuck Truck" after owner Chuck Laudner) he used to visit the state's 99 counties during 2011.

Republicans may be getting an early start because 2016 is looking like it'll be a tough fight within the GOP.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are all rumored to be vying for the GOP nomination.

Democratic operatives were also in the game this weekend with their own pre-2016 events.

EMILYs List, an organization aimed at launching female candidates, brought its "Madam President" campaign to Des Moines on Friday.

Hillary Clinton wasn't there — or even a confirmed candidate — but that didn't stop it from appearing like this was the start of her presidential campaign.

"Is this Hillary Clinton's first campaign event in Iowa?" O. Kay Henderson, the news director of Radio Iowa, asked during the town hall event.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), who supported Obama over Clinton in 2012, has emerged as one of her earliest and biggest supporters.

"We have to have millions of people engaged and ready for what will be a pivotal race in America's history," McCaskill said at the town hall.

"[It's] about getting everyone excited now about what I hope will be that moment in 2017 when we all get to say 'Madam President' to Hillary Rodham Clinton."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130811/2016-already-the-presidential-race-may-have-just