A clash of the titans? Or that sweet new car smell?

That decision might be made sooner than you think.

Starting in August of this year, Republican candidates for President will set out on the debate circuit; but even now, candidates are jockeying for key donors and supporters capable of helping them win the Republican nomination.

This past week on Special Report, panelists discussed with Bret Baier the changing dynamics of Presidential politics, new faces, and the Romney vs. Bush throwdown:

This cycle’s candidates know that they’ll need to bring something new to the table if they want to both energize the grassroots and expand their voter base to include people who wouldn’t normally vote for a conservative Republican—which is the main reason why the Romney and Bush candidacies have bene lampooned so thoroughly by the conservative new media.

For candidates like Scott Walker, the key to victory is balancing a strong policy background with a “new, fresh” approach to selling the Republican Party:

Since winning reelection in November, Walker has been maneuvering deliberately into position for a presidential bid. He recently hired former RNC Political Director Rick Wiley to manage his campaign, which is expected to launch in the next ​two months.

Walker received enthusiastic applause on several occasions—especially when pointing to his ugly battle with organized labor, and his subsequent victory in the 2012 recall election.

“We need to offer a new, fresh approach, one that comes from the states. The states are where we actually get things done,” Walker said. “That matters. It’s not enough just to give a speech.”

Of course, talk of a “new, fresh approach” also highlights the 47-year-old Walker’s youth compared to an older generation of prospective 2016 hopefuls, Democrat and Republican alike.

Outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is busy rebranding both himself and his party’s image, has taken a similar tack, emphasizing unity over purity tests and base-building over playing to an already-played out Republican base. The question is whether or not candidates like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, or a Santorum or Huckabee will be able to do the whole “capture the imagination” thing when they’ve all been around the block too many times to be considered “new” or “fresh.” (You could make the same argument about Perry, but he’s come out of the gate with the “new fresh” message, and he’s remade his image to the point that people may just believe it.)

This cycle won’t be over until it’s over, but you can expect whoever is serious about running to jump in the ring and start campaigning at your doorstep sooner rather than later. It’s the down side to having a deep bench.