WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton as couch potato didn't last long. Was anyone surprised?
While she was getting back in the game, others who might run for president were in motion, too.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie socked away a big re-election victory in New Jersey and scored a prime position in his party to raise money and make friends.
Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., plugged a gaping hole in his resume with a new book.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin rode to the rescue as Republican broker of a December budget deal that avoided a repeat of the fall government shutdown.
Vice President Joe Biden popped up in so many places, with his hand in so much, it might be fair to wonder if there's more than one of him.
For the more than a dozen likely and just-maybe 2016 presidential contenders, it's been a busy year laying the groundwork for a potential campaign even as they continue to deny, though with less oomph than before, that they are doing any such thing.
The election is almost three years away, for goodness sake. But time flies when you have so much prep, positioning and auditioning to do.
It's a tricky balance, getting in people's faces so they get to know you but don't get sick of you.
Might Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, peak too soon with his firebrand politicking and relentless networking?
That's not a risk faced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y. He's been blowing off almost everything a potential candidate is supposed to be doing at this point.
Other than governing his state, Cuomo is doing little more than sitting back and being his sexy self. Anointed sexiest 55-year-old by People magazine, he set aside his distaste for national TV long enough to rub it in with his brother, Chris, a CNN host. But he called in instead of appearing.
Here is a look at how these potential 2016 presidential candidates are progressing on a big to-do list as they head into an even more demanding political year: Clinton, Biden, Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley for the Democrats; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Christie, Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ryan, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Walker for the Republicans.
NON-DENIAL DENIAL: Cagey words that cloak presidential ambitions, none too convincingly.
Biden: "Oh, we'll talk about that." In November 2013, when asked about running.
Clinton: "I'm not in any hurry. I think it's a serious decision, not to be made lightly, but it's also not one that has to be made soon."
Cuomo: Concerning a presidential poll suggesting New Yorkers prefer Christie to him: "It said Chris Christie has better numbers for president than I do. Yeah, because he's running for president, and I am not."
O'Malley: "By the end of this year (2013), we're on course to have a body of work that lays the framework of the candidacy for 2016."
Bush: "There's a time to make a decision. You shouldn't make it too early, you shouldn't make it too late. There's a time. There's a window. And this is not the time for me. This is the time to show a little self-restraint."
Christie: "I am not going to declare tonight ... that I am or I'm not running for president. I won't make those decisions until I have to." — October 2013.
Cruz: "My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate." His standard disclaimer.
Jindal: "I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2016."
Paul: Americans want "for example, someone like myself" in 2016 if he chooses to run.
Perry: "Second chances are what America has always been about" — referring to his ill-fated 2012 campaign and chances he'll try again.
Rubio: "I told people I haven't even thought about that. That's a decision far in the future."
Ryan: "If I'm going to do a job as chairman of the Budget Committee, as a leader of my party, I cannot let my mind be clouded with personal ambition. I'm going to make those decisions later."
Santorum: "A year from now, I'll have to make that decision," he said in November. Is he open to running? "Sure."
Walker: "Right now, my calling is to be the governor. ... I don't rule anything out."
WRITE A BOOK: The perfect stage-setter for a campaign season, just ask Barack Obama ("The Audacity of Hope," 2006; "Dreams from My Father," 2004)
Biden: No, not since 2007.
Cuomo: Yes, coming in 2014.
Clinton: Yes, coming in 2014.
Bush: Yes, on immigration.
Jindal: No, not since 2010.
Paul: "Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds," in 2012; "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," 2011.
Perry: Not since 2010.
Rubio: Yes, coming in late 2014 from the publisher of his 2012 memoir, "An American Son."
Santorum: Yes, coming in 2014, "Blue Collar Conservatives."
Ryan: Yes, recently announced and coming in 2014.
Walker: Yes, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge," came out in the fall.
GO TO IOWA: Its caucuses are the opening act of the nomination contest.
Biden: Yes, spoke at Sen. Tom Harkin's fall 2013 steak-fry fundraiser. Raised money for Iowa congressional candidate Jim Mowrer.
Clinton: No, avoiding big primary/caucus states.
O'Malley: Yes, in 2012, when he headlined Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry, a must-stop for many Democrats seeking to compete in the leadoff caucuses.
Bush: Yes, in 2012.
Christie: Yes, in 2012.
Cruz: Yes, three times in three months in 2013.
Jindal: Yes, summer 2013 visit, then flew with Iowa governor to governors association meeting in Milwaukee. In Iowa seven times in 2012.
Paul: Yes, three times in spring and summer 2013.
Perry: Yes, returned in November 2013 for first time since 2012 campaign. (due again in Dec)
Rubio: Yes, in 2012 just days after the election. A new wave of visits to early voting states expected.
Ryan: Yes, keynote speaker at governor's annual birthday fundraiser in November, in first visit since 2012 campaign.
Santorum: Yes, August 2013 speech to conservative Christians in state where he won the 2012 caucuses. Screened his new Christmas movie in Iowa in November.
Walker: Yes, May fundraiser.
GO TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: Nation's first primary comes after Iowa and is just as important.
Biden: Yes, in 2012 campaign. Canceled planned 2013 fundraiser for state's Democratic governor because of son's health scare.
O'Malley: Yes, spoke at Democratic Party dinner in November. Also spoke at 2012 convention of New Hampshire Democrats.
Christie: Yes, three times in 2012.
Cruz: Yes, GOP fundraiser in August.
Jindal: Yes, headlined state GOP fundraiser in May 2013, visited twice in 2012.
Paul: Yes, headlined state GOP fundraiser in May.
Rubio: Yes, multiple times in 2012.
Ryan: Yes, in 2012. Canceled October 2013 visit because of government shutdown.
Walker: Yes, headlined a GOP state convention in October 2013, keynote at state party convention in September 2012.
DON'T FORGET SOUTH CAROLINA: First Southern primary and big in its own right.
Biden: Yes, headlined annual fundraising dinner in May 2013 for state party, appeared at Rep. James Clyburn's annual fish fry, Easter weekend vacation on Kiawah Island.
O'Malley: Yes, April speech to party activists.
Bush: Yes, 2012 speech.
Christie: Yes, helped Mitt Romney raise money in 2012.
Cruz: Yes, "Pastors and Pews" event in November 2013, cultivating relationship with religious conservatives. Also visited in May, speaking to annual state GOP dinner.
Jindal: Yes, August fundraiser for governor.
Paul: Yes, Yes, foreign policy speech at the The Citadel military college and small GOP fundraiser in Charleston in November 2013 visit; headlined several fundraisers earlier in year.
Perry: Yes, two-day visit in December 2013, addressed state GOP. In August, raised money for re-election campaign of Gov. Nikki Haley
Rubio: Yes, headlined 2012 Silver Elephant dinner.
Ryan: Yes, in 2012 campaign.
Santorum: Yes. Campaigned in April 2013 for Curtis Bostic in GOP House runoff race.
Walker: Yes, attended August fundraiser for Haley, who came to Wisconsin to campaign for him in 2012 recall vote.
GO ABROAD: Helps to give neophytes foreign policy cred, and Israel is a touchstone for U.S. politicians.
Biden: Yes, globe-trotter, to nearly a dozen countries in Obama's second term including December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea.
Clinton: Another globe-trotter, nearly 1 million miles as secretary of state. Limited overseas travel in 2013: honorary degree at St. Andrews University in Scotland in September; trip to London in October for a diplomacy award and a fundraising concert for the family's foundation. Canadian speech.
Cuomo: Not much lately. Israel twice in 2002.
O'Malley: Yes. Israel in 2013 this year for a second time. Also Denmark, Ireland, France, Brazil and El Salvador in 2013. Asia in 2011, Iraq in 2010.
Bush: Yes, several overseas trips a year. Three times to Israel since 1980s.
Christie: Yes, Israel and Jordan in 2012.
Cruz: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012, again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.
Jindal: Canadian speech to oil industry in August 2013, not overseas as governor.
Paul: Yes, Israel and Jordan in January.
Perry: Yes, recently back from Israel, latest of several trips there. Stopped in London to see British officials and financial leaders.
Rubio: Yes, Israel and Jordan in February 2013, also Israel after 2010 Senate election. Britain in December.
Ryan: Yes, Middle East during congressional career; visited troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Santorum: Scant foreign travel while in the Senate drew notice in 2012 GOP campaign.
Walker: Yes, China in April. Not been to Israel.
MEET THE MONEY: To know donors now is to tap them later.
Biden: Yes, schmoozes party contributors at private receptions, helping Democratic campaign committees raise money from big-dollar donors before 2014 midterms.
Clinton: Yes, can tap deep can tap deep well of Dem and activist money. Bundlers such as Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban have signaled support. Worked fundraising circuit to help Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor in Virginia and Bill de Blasio's mayoral bid in New York City.
Cuomo: Flush coffers for 2014 governor's race.
O'Malley: Yes, as finance chairman for Democratic Governors Association in 2014 midterm campaign, and as one of the party's top fundraisers.
Bush: Yes, party this summer for his book at home of Woody Johnson, owner of New York Jets and leading Republican bundler.
Christie: Yes, now chairman of Republican Governors Association, which means regular access to GOP's top national donors. This follows aggressive 2013 national fundraising tour for his governor's race.
Cruz: Yes, visited major donors in New York City in November 2013 and met with Donald Trump. Building donor lists from the more than 1.5 million people who signed the online petition "Don'tFundObamaCare."
Jindal: Yes, met leading GOP donors in New York City. Among prospective candidates who visited Iowa GOP donor Bruce Rastetter's farm in August 2013 for annual fundraiser for the governor.
Paul: Yes, attended Romney's Utah retreat with major party donors, met GOP donors in New York City.
Perry: Yes, has proven an effective fundraiser as America's longest-sitting governor, both from grassroots activists and mainstream Republicans. Has led many job-poaching missions in big states with Democratic governors and met privately during those trips with donors in California and New York.
Rubio: Yes, met major GOP donors in New York City, attended Washington meeting with Romney bundlers.
Ryan: Yes, attended Romney's Utah retreat with major party donors, has 2012 campaign money connections.
Santorum: 2012 shoestring campaign was largely fueled by a super political action committee to which Republican donor Foster Friess gave more than $2 million.
Walker: Yes, headlined 2013 fundraisers in New York and Connecticut.
NETWORK LIKE MAD: Taking their case to ideologues, activists and party heavyweights who hold great sway in nomination race.
Biden: Yes, vigorously with Dems and activists. Keynote speeches at annual state Democratic Party dinners across country. Campaigned for new Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, new Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.
Clinton: Steady presence now on speaking circuit, delivering paid speeches to industry groups and conferences and appearing before a number of groups with ties to the Democratic coalition.
Cuomo: Very little on the radar. Skipped national governors meeting in August.
O'Malley: Yes, vigorously, and big splash at national governors meeting.
Bush: Yes, with conservative activists, education leaders.
Christie: Yes, vigorous outreach now as the new Republican Governors Association chairman.
Cruz: Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate; landed coveted slot as keynote speaker at Conservative Political Action Conference in March. Persistently courts religious and economic conservatives; campaigned for Virginia tea party-backed gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli in Richmond in October 2013.
Jindal: Yes, plenty of conservative courtship. Campaigned for GOP in 2013 Virginia governor's race. Speeches to Republican and conservative groups in Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New York, Alabama and Indiana in the fall about Justice Department lawsuit against Louisiana's school voucher program. December speech in Philadelphia about energy policy.
Paul: Yes, plenty. Campaigned in fall 2013 for GOP candidates in Virginia governor's race and New Jersey U.S. Senate election. Met Michigan Republicans in September. Conservative activists, tech leaders, Reagan Presidential Library speech.
Perry: Conservative Political Action Conference, March 2013, and its regional meeting in St. Louis in September. RedState Gathering in New Orleans in August; job-pitching tour in various states helps make connections.
Rubio: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused lately on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Campaigned for Republican in Virginia governor's race. Spent more than $200,000 in early December 2013 from PAC to help Arkansas Senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton.
Ryan: Yes, prime networker as 2012 vice presidential candidate. Helping fellow House members raise money.
Santorum: His Christian-themed film company is his calling card. Previewed "The Christmas Candle" for conservative religious leaders at Values Voter conference in Washington, and screens it for other like-minded groups.
Walker: Campaigned for GOP in Virginia governor's race. Spoke to Michigan Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island in September 2013. Belle of the ball as host of the National Governors Association summer meeting in Milwaukee. Conservative Political Action Conference, Aspen Institute.
HOG THE TV: Achieving national recognition by sermonizing on the Sunday news shows, or going for soft questions and easy laughs on late-night TV.
Biden: No, not lately.
Cuomo: No. Prefers radio.
O'Malley: Sparred with Perry over job creation and health care on CNN's "Crossfire" in September 2013. Not much on the Sunday shows since 2012 campaign, when he appeared frequently.
Bush: Blanketed the five Sunday shows one day in March 2013 to plug his book on immigration, a few appearances other times.
Christie: Yes, late-night TV circuit, playing for laughs. Four Sunday news shows in one day after his 2013 re-election.
Cruz: Yes, half dozen Sunday news show invites since August alone. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in November 2013. Appears on Fox News almost every week, sometimes multiple times; frequent guest on CNN.
Jindal: No, only a couple of Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election.
Paul: Leader of the chattering pack with more than a dozen Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election. Frequent guest on news networks, especially Fox.
Perry: Might be picking up pace. Only a few Sunday talk show appearances since the election. Debated Obama's health care law with O'Malley on Crossfire" in September.
Rubio: Yes. Blanketed all five Sunday news shows one day in April 2013, before he dropped the subject of immigration, and several other appearances since. Frequent guest on news networks.
Ryan: A half-dozen Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. Occasional guest on network news.
Santorum: Yes, plugging Christmas movie, on "The Colbert Report," Fox News, MSNBC and more. Radio, too. Teamed up with Democrat Howard Dean as sparring partners for debates on the air and with audiences.
Walker: Half dozen Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. "Crossfire" debate with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Also, Piers Morgan, Lou Dobbs, more appearances.