2016 update: Cowboys, book tours and same-sex marriage


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(CNN) — Now that the holidays are over, there’s a lot of activity bubbling up in the 2016 presidential race, especially on the Republican side. Here’s a brief look at what’s been happening and what we can expect to see from prospective candidates in coming weeks.

Bush says same-sex marriage fight already decided

The state of Florida is gearing up to start issuing same-sex marriages as early as this week after a federal judge ruled in August that the state’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

But former governor, Jeb Bush, said Sunday the decision should have been left to the states, appearing to stand by the 2008 amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“It ought be a local decision. I mean, a state decision,” Bush told the Miami Herald. “The state decided. The people of the state decided. But it’s been overturned by the courts, I guess.”

His comments were consistent with previous measured statements by Bush, who left office in 2007. As governor, he was against same-sex marriage, but he didn’t try lobby too hard at the time to back the same-sex marriage amendment of 2008.

And in 2013, Bush warned in a speech that Republicans were becoming known for being “anti-gay,” as well as “anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science” and “anti-worker.”

“The face of the Republican Party needs to be the face of every American, and we need to be the party of inclusion and acceptance,” Bush said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Can Christie turn his love for the Cowboys into campaign cash?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie schmoozed with (and bear-hugged) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the owner’s box Sunday night.

While Christie has said the two have been developing a friendship over the past five years, their relationship is coming under renewed attention now that Christie is angling for a possible presidential bid.

Christie’s friendship with Jones could help expand his donor network in Texas, a state where Gov. Rick Perry and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — two potential competitors — have deep ties to many wealthy contributors.

Asked on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” radio show Monday if he thinks he can carry Texas now, should he run for president, Christie joked: “I think our chances have improved.”

He said he hopes to go to the Cowboys playoff game next weekend against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin.

Asked if he’ll pay a visit to Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 rival for the GOP presidential nomination, while he’s there, Christie said: “Of course. Scott and I are friends, and I’ll see Scott.”

Christie will have to squeeze the football games into his busy schedule this month as the former Republican Governors Association chairman travels to multiple states for gubernatorial inaugurations. He’s already slated to visit ceremonies in Florida, Maryland, Iowa, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Illinois and Ohio.

He’s also attending a social conservative gathering in Iowa on Jan. 24 along with other potential 2016 Republican contenders. And on February 12, he’s speaking at a Lincoln Day Dinner in the Chicago area hosted by Northwest Suburban Republican.

Bobby Jindal going to Iowa

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal isn’t attending the Iowa event on Jan. 24, but he’s still grabbing some face time with Iowa evangelical leaders when he heads to the Hawkeye State on Tuesday.

First reported by the Des Moines Register, Jindal will meet with pastors in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines at closed-door events sponsored by the American Renewal Project.

Jindal’s political spokesman said Jindal plans to talk about the prayer and fasting event he’s leading in Louisiana on Jan. 24, the same day as the freedom summit in Iowa.

Rand Paul’s wife hitting the (Kentucky) road

Kelley Paul, the wife of Republican Sen. Rand Paul, is set to start her book tour of her upcoming title, “True and Constant Friends,” scheduled to release in April. Paul will make multiple stops in Kentucky this week to talk about her book, a collection of essays about women, including her grandmother.

As he gears up for a likely presidential bid, Rand Paul has frequently mentioned that he’s still waiting for his wife to sign off on a White House run. We’ll be watching this week to see if she’s asked about her husband’s aspirations.

In August, she cautioned in a radio interview that launching a presidential campaign is “something that you don’t go into lightly.”

“Being in the public eye is hard on a family and a marriage,” she added. “It’s not a typical job where you just go to work and do your job, there are huge demands on your time and, obviously, there are going to be a lot of people attacking you…and that’s part of it, that’s part of politics, but it’s on such a high scale when you’re running for President, so we’re thinking about it but not 100% there yet obviously.”

Kelley Paul, a former political consultant, has worked with her husband on speeches and other writings. Her husband is also set to release a book this spring.

Huckabee takes big step toward presidential bid

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he’s ending his weekly Fox News to explore the idea of a presidential bid, a final decision he says he won’t make until the spring.

The move marked yet another serious step taken by a potential contender, following Jeb Bush’s announcement last month that he’d be actively exploring a bid and was stepping down from his corporate board memberships.

A source close to Huckabee’s political operation said the decision to leave Fox has been long in the works and argued Bush’s timing had “zero” impact on Huckabee’s strategy.

Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and won the Iowa caucuses, will spend the next few months promoting his new book and focusing on securing the financial footing that he lacked in 2008 to sustain a prolonged campaign.

“If he decides to run this time, I think that’s something we will be able to remedy,” the source said. “It’s one of the things that he learned eight years ago: make sure you have the financial resources to compete.”

He’s also attending to the Iowa Freedom Summit later this month and stopping in the early primary state of South Carolina for his book tour.

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