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Behind GOP critiques of Romney, jockeying for 2016 has begun (+video)

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Even as the post-mortems on Campaign 2012 continue to be written, the jockeying for 2016 has already begun. And in many cases, they are one and the same.

Consider Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sharp critique Wednesday of Mitt Romney.

At a press conference, Governor Jindal drew a stark contrast between himself and Mr. Romney, calling Romney’s reported comments that President Obama had won the election because of “gifts” he’d provided to key constituencies "absolutely wrong."

“We have got to stop dividing the American voters,” Jindal said. “We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent.” He also criticized the Romney campaign for focusing too much on biography, and not offering enough of a “vision.”

If Jindal – who has been frequently mentioned as a possible 2016 contender – does wind up running, then comments like these could help him stake out early ground as the Republican candidate who could best speak to middle-class voters and bring more diversity into the party.

Now, we realize that it may seem awfully early for would-be contenders to be drawing battle lines. But in this age of the permanent campaign – when a politician’s words and actions have instantaneous reach and can live forever on the Internet – the initial phase of self-definition can actually prove critical. As Talking Points Memo’s Benjy Sarlin notes, it was during this very same week back in 2008 that Mitt Romney, in an apparent effort to begin burnishing his conservative credentials, wrote his ill-fated “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” opinion article.

And Jindal’s not the only one who appears to be doing some early 2016 positioning.

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