With This Announcement, The Presidential Race Begins For Real

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages.
There are 574 days until the 2016 presidential election — just fewer than 20 months — and at least a half-dozen candidates who are still expected to throw their hats in the ring. And yet, today it feels like the race to succeed Obama has begun in earnest. Less than 24 hours after Hillary Clinton made her run official, Florida Senator Marco Rubio launched his own campaign. 

There are now three Republicans and a major Democrat in the running, which is definitely enough for it to feel like campaign season is here! 

What should you know about Rubio? At 43, he's young compared to other big names in the race, and he's the child of Cuban immigrants. In a call with potential campaign donors announcing his run, he called himself "uniquely qualified" to be a transformative figure within his party. He expects to bring a younger, more diverse group of voters over to his side, and he wants voters to know that he knows Pitbull.

Rubio will have to compete against a lot of people: the Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky; Tea Party conservative Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is laying groundwork with wealthy, more mainstream Republican donors, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is spending tons of time in Iowa. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina wants to be the choice for women who don't want a Hillary White House. Those are just the most high-profile possibilities.

Does this mean that the next 18 months will bring a never-ending stream of campaign attack ads, protests, and Saturday Night Live impressions? While the SNL sketches have already begun, and protesters set up outside of Rubio's event on Monday, for most of us outside Iowa or New Hampshire, there's still a few months before the news becomes all election coverage, all the time.

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