U.S.

Are Hillary And Jeb Running For President?

No one's sure if Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush are running for President, but should that stop people from treating them like candidates?

Are Hillary And Jeb Running For President?
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We have more than 790 days before Americans head to the polls to pick their next president, but the campaigning has already started — even if the candidates don't feel like admitting it. 

On the Democratic side there's Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and presumptive Democratic nominee. She's "presumptive" because we don't know if she's running — and, apparently, neither does she. 

KTTV: "Hillary Clinton telling an audience in Mexico City today that quote, I'm going to be making a decision probably after the first of the year, about whether I'm going to run again or not."

If she runs, the Clinton machine could be hard to stop. Bolstered by her popular husband, sky-high name recognition, and a long resume of public service, Real Clear Politics gives her a historic 50-plus point lead on her competition. 

On the Republican side, no clear favorite seems to be emerging. FiveThirtyEight calls it the most muddled field since 1976, seeing that the GOP is so divided. 

But one candidate took a big step this week toward an official campaign. The Wall Street Journal reports Jeb Bush's allies are speaking out, telling influential Republicans to hold off on endorsing anyone else until Jeb's made up his mind. 

One of his advisers put it bluntly, saying: "He is seriously considering the race and will make a decision sometime after November." 

The Washington Post said in June he was the "most likely" GOP candidate, ranked above GOP celebrities like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. 

And they made some good points — Bush is a popular former governor who, like Hillary, has the fundraising skills and establishment credentials to mount a serious bid. Not to mention a family with a history of winning presidential elections. 

The New York Times: "My grandfather and my father have been incredible role models for me and served our country honorable. And my brother? Well, I love my brother."

But doesn't this all seem a little ridiculous? What's the point of analyzing candidates who haven't even said they're in the race?

Bloomberg's Jonathan Bernstein has a simple answer: Candidates don't "jump in" all at once. They run a little, and if it goes well they run some more, and at some point before the first caucus they either decide they can't win and drop out, or formally announce they're "in the race."

Bernstein's rule? Watch what they're doing, not what they're saying. 

And the fact is both Clinton and Bush have been "doing" things since 2012 — calling party leaders, building networks, and spending an otherwise inexplicable amount of time in Iowa.

Because while 790-plus days is a long time, the U.S. presidency is arguably the most powerful office in the world. And for the candidates, the time to win it is already ticking down. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.