Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, two Republicans whose names are regularly in the mix for 2016 talk, both made the list.
"The real secret to Rand’s rapid rise from a Bowling Green operating room to the center of American politics is his authenticity," writes Paul's colleague from Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "It’s a trait that’s obvious to anyone who has seen him come out of a D.C. television studio in Ray-Bans and shorts, or hold the Senate floor for half a day to get answers from an imperious White House."
Meanwhile Walker, who enraged Democrats in his blue state by taking on unions shortly after his 2010 election, managed to survive a special election recall effort two years later.
"One of the most difficult challenges is standing up for what you believe in when faced with relentless public attacks," wrote New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who surely knows something of how Walker feels. "Scott Walker faced that test and passed it with flying colors."
And though New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand may not be looking to leave the Senate just yet, there are those who see the Oval Office in her future.
"She can go as far as she likes," wrote former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican for whom Gillibrand worked as an intern. "If Kirsten Gillibrand wants to be a rock star, she’ll be a rock star. But she’d make a great President."
Notably absent, however, are a number of politicians who have made no secret of their presidential ambitions. Christie, considered the GOP's best chance at 2016 until last fall's "Bridgegate" derailed his campaign before it got started, only appears to author Walker's entry.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida -- both of whom have looked like they could make a run for the White House by repairing the GOP's fractured relationship with Latinos -- have somewhat faded from the spotlight, and neither earned a place on the list. Nor did former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said just this week that he was "thinking about running for president."
While a potential Clinton campaign has overshadowed nearly any other Democratic hopeful, none of those whose names are on the "just in case Hillary doesn't run" list were tapped by Time. Neither Vice President Joe Biden, who has been open about his desire to succeed his boss in the West Wing, nor Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, beloved by progressives but unwavering in her position that she won't run in this election, were named.
Only Secretary of State John Kerry, who unsuccessfully ran against President George W. Bush in 2004, made the list, and he is unlikely to try again.