McConnell, a dominant force in the state's GOP, is up for re-election in 2014. His politicking in Kentucky helps keep the party apparatus — much of which he helped build since winning election in 1984 — in fighting shape for his bid for a sixth term and keep at bay any potential tea party-style challenger from the right.
Lower ranking leaders are in on the act as well.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is splitting his time between his central Virginia district and the road. On Saturday, Cantor was in Ann Arbor, Mich., visiting his daughter while mixing in a tailgating event aimed at boosting Romney.
For Cantor and other leaders like Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., campaign events and fundraisers with GOP candidates help nurture relationships that may pay off in later leadership races.
The same holds true for Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, patiently waiting behind onetime rival Pelosi for a chance to be Democratic leader. Since September, he's cut a campaign and fundraising swath through Washington State, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, among other states.
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