Who's going to jump in '16?

It’s getting fun watching the prospective candidates for president in 2016 start hedging whether they’re actually going to make the plunge.

The latest apparently is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who might run for the Republican nomination in two years.


Rubio says his decision won’t depend on whether former Florida Gov.Jeb Bush decides to run. Rubio says he hasn’t talked to the former governor, but the fact that he’s talking about it at all suggests — to me, at least — that he’s got Jeb on his radar.

So, let’s ponder these other possibilities:

* U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says he likely won’t run if his 2012 Republican presidential nominee running mate Mitt Romney jumps in. No word from Romney what he plans to do if Ryan goes ahead with a run.

* Vice President Joe Biden likely will consider backing out of the Democratic contest if former senator, former secretary of state and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to go for it.

* Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wants to seek the GOP nomination, but will he go if another talkative Texan, lame-duck Gov. Rick Perry jumps into the race?

* And is Perry going to make the leap if Cruz decides it’s his time to run?

Of all the fascinating what-ifs to ponder, I’m interested mostly in the Texas two-step that might play out between Perry and Cruz.

Perry’s been to the well once already. He flamed out badly before the first primary took place in New Hampshire. He’s trying to re-craft his brand. Cruz is the still-quite-new junior senator from Texas who entered the upper congressional chamber in January 2013 with his mouth blazing away. He hasn’t shut his trap since.

Both of these guys have never seen a TV camera they didn’t like. Cruz is especially enamored of the sound of his voice and the appearance of his face on TV.

It’s going to be tough for both of them to run for president, each trying to outflank the other on the right wing of their already-extreme right-wing party.

Who will jump in first? And will the other one back away?

And what about Ryan and Romney, Biden and Clinton, and Rubio and Bush?

This is going to get tense.