The Presidential Campaign’s About To Get Crazy: Here’s What To Know

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The campaign for president (yes, the election is still 17 months away) is entering phase II next week. Jeb Bush — one of the GOP's heavy hitters — will officially enter the race on Monday, and the woman who might face him in the general election, Hillary Clinton, is taking her operation into high gear, holding her first big rally this weekend. Clinton and Bush aside, both sides have full benches of second-tier candidates keeping things interesting — and more joining every day. Here's what you need to know: There are enough people running to form a softball league.

Since the end of May, Rick Santorum, former New York Governor George Pataki, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry have all launched campaigns on the GOP side. They join the six other candidates who had already jumped into the race. Now, there are so many people running that the news companies organizing debates have had to limit the number of candidates allowed to participate. But thankfully, the rush of announcements is almost over. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are the most popular candidates who have yet to announce that they’re officially running, but we won’t have to wait very long. Bush’s campaign launch is set for June 15, and Walker has said he will announce his 2016 bid after his state’s budget talks end this month. Of the remaining potential candidates, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Ohio Governor John Kasich have all said they’ll unveil their plans soon. Assuming all those folks declare, that'll mean 15 Republican candidates. On the Democratic side, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee joined Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the race. Neither candidate has as much momentum as Sanders has gathered since starting his campaign at the end of April. If the Dems joined in, there'd be enough players to form a two-team softball league — and someone left over to be the umpire!

Lindsey Graham supports Caitlyn Jenner, is fascinating.

If there's one "long-shot" candidate on the right to pay attention to, it's Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham has made a name for himself in the Senate for being one of the most outspoken supporters of military force and aggressive anti-terrorism tactics — he once suggested we send Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Guantanamo for questioning — but he’s shown a much more tolerant side recently when it comes to social issues. "If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be a Republican, she is welcome in my party," Graham said on CNN Sunday. This is in sharp contrast to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who mocked trans people during an appearance in February. Graham, on the other hand, said, "I haven't walked in her shoes. I can only imagine the torment that Bruce Jenner went through. I hope he's — I hope she — has found peace." Graham did manage to find a way to tie LGBT issues to his fear of Islamic terrorism. “In the eyes of radical Islam,” he said, “they hate you as much as they hate Caitlyn Jenner. They hate us all because we won't agree to their view of religion. So America, we are all in this together."

Bernie Sanders can't be ignored (and is also fascinating).
There’s no denying it: Hillary Clinton is the undisputed Democratic front-runner, with a massive campaign machine and millions of dollars — and she’s much more popular than her opponents. But, the Vermont Senator is already drawing crowds of thousands at events in states like Iowa and Minnesota, and he did surprisingly well in a straw poll conducted this weekend. Senator Sanders calls himself a socialist, comes from a tiny Northeastern state, and speaks a bit like your rambling, long-winded grandfather. And, he has proven himself a force to be reckoned with.

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