CHARLOTTE, N.C - Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand breezed through this convention city this week, interspersing her television news interviews with a visit with the New York delegation, an event on women's leadership, an appearance on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and a breakfast with delegates from the key state of Iowa.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo thundered into and out of the New York delegation breakfast Thursday, delivering a stinging partisan address that touted the Empire State as an example of excellence for the nation, then he left with no further words for the media.
And to hear these two New York rising stars tell it, neither is running for president.
Nevertheless, Democrats here can't help but think that's a possibility.
"Her political future is whatever she wants it to be," Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa State Democratic Party, said of Gillibrand.
Meanwhile, after Cuomo wowed his fellow New Yorkers with a stemwinding speech eviscerating Republicans while praising Obama, as well as the state's recent accomplishments, Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan said: "If the presidency comes along in '16, I'll be right there behind him."
For now, though, both Gillibrand and Cuomo are going to great lengths to indicate that they won't be running in 2016, when Democrats will either have to replace a term-limited Barack Obama or defeat a one-term Republican President Mitt Romney.
Asked by New York reporters Wednesday about any presidential ambitions, Gillibrand responded with a Shermanesque "No."
And in a discussion with reporters after her appearance before the Iowans a day later, Gillibrand said: "I hope Hillary Clinton runs so that I can support her."
What's more, Cuomo would make "an excellent candidate and a great, great president," she added.
Speaking before the Iowans, though, Gillibrand spoke like someone seeking a national profile - someday, if not in 2016.
She told the Iowa delegates the story of how she entered public service and the challenges she faced along the way, And after exhorting the crowd to push Obama to victory in their swing-state home, Gillibrand concluded by saying: "I want to thank you for fighting the good fight, for being who you are, and being first in a lot of really important things."
Iowa hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses that choose the first delegates in each and every presidential race.
Despite what could be seen as a coy parting comment before the Iowans, Gillibrand clearly has something other than the presidency on her mind these days.
Most of her convention-week appearances have focused on her "off the sidelines" effort to get more women elected to office.
Doing so is a matter of fairness and common sense, she told "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart.
"Women are often very good at building bipartisan compromise," she said. "We're good listeners. We bring people together."
Besides, she noted: "If we had 51 percent in Congress, do you think we'd be debating birth control? No."
Such talk is music to the ears of people like Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
"I feel she's very strong and that she's doing a great job" laying the groundwork for other women to move into elective office, Smeal said.
Anyone who saw Cuomo speak before the New York delegates Thursday would know he's pretty strong, too.
He started by savaging the Republican ticket, saying that Obama inherited one of the worst economic situations in history upon taking office and scoffing at the idea that the president should be castigated for an economic recovery the GOP now claims is slow and uneven.
"Frankly, it's absurd that the people and party that caused the problem now want to present themselves as solver of the problem," he said.
And while touting Obama's re-election, he proudly took ownership of the state's accomplishments during his tenure. Citing marriage equality, tax fairness and Medicaid reform, he called New York "the progressive capital of the nation."
And he left the New York delegates longing for more.
"I would have loved to have heard him say that before the convention," said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo. "It hit all the right points. He said exactly what we need to be doing."
Cuomo chose to take a low-profile approach to the convention, however. The breakfast was his one public appearance at the convention. And after Thursday night's convention finale, he planned to fly home to New York State, where he's slept every night since he was elected governor.
Those close to Cuomo refuse to even speculate about the presidency, saying the governor's focus is entirely on Albany.
That's fine by Dvorsky, the Iowa Democratic chairwoman. She expressed no disappointment that Cuomo did not appear before the state's delegates, even though several other potential 2016 candidates, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, had done so. And she said Cuomo's nonappearance would do him no harm in the state.
Still, ambitious politicians who visit the Iowa delegation do get a gift that they might be able to use at some point.
After Gillibrand finished speaking, Dvorsky presented Gillibrand with a map of Iowa.
"You can come see us any time you want," Dvorsky said.

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