2016 starts now: Tracking presidential hopefuls with Jorge Ramos

They haven’t declared, but they’ve already told us plenty. After a year’s worth of interviews with plenty of possible 2016 contenders, here are the most memorable moments with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.

“I’m not sure I’m going to run, but if I do, I think competition is healthy,” Former Secretary Hillary Clinton said. Her recent book tour showcased her presidential resume, but it also featured controversies over her wealth and ability to relate to everyday Americans during a grueling campaign. Pundits believe the Democratic nomination is hers to lose if she enters the race. Of course, they also said that eight years ago.

A couple of would-be spoilers spoke with Fusion, and they might both attack Clinton from the left. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has fiery campaign skills and anti-establishment cred from her crusades against Wall Street. As she showed in her interview with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez, her push to relieve some student loan debt is a prime example.

“I just want to be clear for me this is about who this government works for,” Warren said. “Are we going to be a country that says this place only works for millionaires?”

Though her bill has floundered in Congress, it won’t be forgotten by the Democrats’ key younger voting bloc, and it is sure to resonate with voters still skeptical of big financial institutions.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has deep party roots, including ties to both Clinton and Obama, but he’s separated from the latter in dramatic fashion recently by opposing the president’s plan to speed up deportations of child migrants at the border.

“We need to treat this issue as the humanitarian challenge that it is,” O’Malley said, calling the children refugees and standing by his claim that they face certain death if the U.S. sends them away. O’Malley’s name recognition isn’t as high as Warren’s, but fighting words like this could help sway the notoriously fickle primary spotlight.

The Republican field is as wide open as a rural red state. It doesn’t want for star power, but the circling heavyweights illustrate the looming struggle for the party’s nomination as well as its overarching identity in a fractious political era. Sooner or later, someone will make the first move.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said he’s yet to make a decision, though many agree that his mix of conservative and libertarian positions could launch a much-needed base expansion for a party on a presidential losing streak. Paul’s embraced this idea in a series of summer appearances in key primary states, and he continues to address Americans’ skepticism of government power and surveillance.

“If you only allow the people who are spying to make the decisions, they’re going to want more spying,” Paul said. He’s also finishing a book of his own and planning a major fall foreign policy address. It might not take extra intelligence to decipher which way he’s leaning.

It took some doing to figure out whether Texas Senator Ted Cruz can run for president — but his supporters say it’s worth the effort for the contentious-yet-ascendant young conservative. It looks like he’s in the clear after renouncing his Canadian citizenship and establishing his mother’s American citizenship. He’s been in Washington for less than two years, but you can’t count out a firebrand who isn’t known for waiting his turn.

“There’s a lot of partisan animosity in this town and that’s unfortunate,” Cruz said. He also claimed President Obama is “absolutely abusing his power.” After his key role in the battles over Obamacare and the federal government shutdown, Cruz himself may be more famous for getting in the way than getting things done. But his unusually quick rise to power can’t be ignored, and that’s just the way he likes it.

When Marco Rubio came to Washington, he wasn’t just Florida’s newest senator. Conservative golden boy, Tea Party darling, fresh Latino voice — his big talents built big expectations.
But electoral victories don’t ensure legislative ones, especially in on Capitol Hill right now, and Rubio took his lumps during the immigration reform fight. He spoke on climate and foreign policy with Ramos, a new focus and a potential foundation for a Rubio presidential run.

“I think we need to focus more on the Western Hemisphere,” Rubio said, explaining his particular focus on strife in Venezuela. He has also spoken passionately in support of Israel from the Senate floor recently.

As with all of these leading lights — not to mention others like Joe Biden, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie — much bigger speeches may be to come. As they continue to face tests of their ideas, their leadership and their sanity amid smoldering current events and national media anticipation, voters will have no shortage of material to consult. Such is the wild wonder of American presidential elections.