How to campaign without campaigning

Story highlights

  • Gov. Chris Christie campaigned for Scott Brown in New Hampshire this week
  • Early presidential primary states, such as New Hampshire, are hot targets for potential 2016ers
  • They can build their own profiles in early states under the guise of helping other candidates
It must be nice running for office this year in an early presidential primary state.
Republican Scott Brown welcomed Gov. Chris Christie to New Hampshire on Wednesday -- adding another name to the list of high-profile Republicans who've traveled to the Granite State to help him out.
Christie's visit came just days after Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky made a two-day swing in the first-in-the-nation primary state. On his itinerary was a campaign event for Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts who's trying to reclaim a spot in the Senate.
Mitt Romney and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio have also showed up in support of Brown. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush headlined a fundraiser for him in Boston earlier this summer.
For people like Romney, helping Brown is a chance to maintain an elevated status in the GOP.
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New Jersey Gov. Christie campaigns for Scott Brown
For folks like Paul, Bush, Christie and Portman, it's an opportunity to rub elbows with key activists, donors and organizers in the state -- and of course stoke 2016 speculation. It's also a chance to cozy up with local candidates who could return the favor in a couple of years.
For Brown, it's a good way to get his campaign in the headlines with national press following the potential presidential contenders around.
"This is somebody who's seen (Washington) and he's actually willing to go back there," Christie said Wednesday at the campaign event for Brown in Salem, New Hampshire. "That is a fighter, everybody. That's somebody's who's willing to fight for New Hampshire."
In Iowa, Republican Joni Ernst is also in a heated contest. The Hawkeye State traditionally holds the first contest in presidential primaries. Ernst has seen a flood of in-person support in recent months from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Romney.
When Paul was in Iowa last month, he frequently talked about the importance of electing Ernst and other Republican candidates to Congress. Rep. Paul Ryan is slated to show up for Ernst later this month.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's eying another presidential bid, has done his fair share of campaigning for local candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, too.
Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has been busy on the road this year campaigning for gubernatorial candidates in 28 states. And how how convenient: All three early states have gubernatorial races this year.
Big-name surrogates help candidates not only with better turnouts at events, but they bring star power (read: more money) at private fund-raisers as well.
Hillary Clinton turned out for Ernst's opponent on Sunday. The former secretary of state talked up Rep. Bruce Braley at a major Democratic event in Indianola, Iowa, not long after she and her husband appeared at a fund-raiser for the state's Democrats.
There can even be a spillover effect with neighboring states. When Christie traveled to South Carolina, the first-in-the-South primary state, earlier this week to campaign for Gov. Nikki Haley, he made a stop in North Carolina to stump for Senate candidate Thom Tillis, as well.
Paul did almost the same thing. On his way to stump for Rep. Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina last month, he lunched at a North Carolina GOP fund-raiser.
Over in South Carolina, Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have also hit the campaign trail -- under the guise of boosting their fellow governor Haley, of course.
With fewer than 50 days until Election Day, presidential hopefuls will keep visiting those states, pledging their unflappable support for candidates while also expanding their Rolodexes and currying favor for their own political futures.
And the 2014 candidates, many of them running in tight races, probably don't mind.