Ted Cruz’s Rocket Ride
Wednesday morning’s National Review Online story about Ted Cruz and 2016 created a national stir, reporting one of the party’s fastest rising stars is “considering” a 2016 bid.
Sen. Cruz quickly expressed his own surprise at the “wild speculation” about 2016.
But before you blush at such unbridled ambition, recall that then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was mentioned as presidential candidate just as quickly in his first term as Cruz has been.
If Cruz were to run in 2016, he would likely be one of three first-term U.S. Senators to run, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Let’s be clear about what has, and more importantly, what hasn’t happened.
Sen. Cruz has taken no direct steps toward running for president, barely three months into office. He has not expanded his operation, hired new consultants and sought out major donors.
He doesn’t even have a permanent Senate office or website yet, instead relying on transitional efforts while both are prepared.
Ted Cruz is on a rocket ride right now. His office is besieged with speaking invitations and his day job is entirely time-consuming. When in session, he is focused on his committee work (Judiciary, Armed Services and Commerce). When not in session, he is constantly traveling Texas (a state with 20 media markets) and trying to accept a few invitations to help Republicans across the country. So far he has helped an Ohio County Republican Party raise funds, and he will soon appear at events to assist the South Carolina (tonight) and New York Republican state parties (May 29).
The South Carolina event is intended to honor Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), the intellectual godfather of the Senate conservative movement and a mentor to Cruz, Rubio and many others. Sen. Cruz is not using this weekend’s Columbia, SC trip to maximize the political benefit, instead choosing to go in and out quickly in the same day.
Will Sen. Cruz run in 2016?
I think it is a distinct possibility – because the groundswell of support will be overwhelming. The grassroots admires his intelligence and ability to make (and win) an argument. His personal story and Cuban heritage are appealing. Texas is a fantastic state in which to raise money. He is not facing re-election until 2018. There are many good reasons.
However, I also think he will not focus to any great extent on this decision until the 2014 midterm elections are behind us. Nor should he.
He will instead focus his energies on fighting for conservative principles in the U.S. Senate and helping to elect as many new Senate Republicans as possible in his role as National Republican Senate Campaign committee vice chair.
Other candidates may make more overt statements about running and take more serious steps.
The Republican field for president in 2016 will be the strongest in living memory, a major difference from 2012. Many establishment candidates like Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) will likely compete. But the energy will be with the conservative candidates.
In the meantime, Sen. Cruz isn’t going away. He appears to be fearless. Negative media attention does not shake him. He’s been slandered as a “McCarthyite” and a “jerk,” both of which could not be further from the truth.
No one politician, perhaps since Sarah Palin, has taken more direct attacks than Cruz has in the past three months from the national media and Democratic politicians.
None of it bothers him. The personal attacks on Cruz are never returned in kind.He goes forward, with a smile, a happy warrior, uniquely skilled for the current political and media environment.
He will remain a key player in the major political fights ahead. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he was key in successfully preventing efforts to expand gun control on constitutional grounds. He will be fighting to strengthen border security provisions as part of the immigration reform bill. He has said he opposes an earned path to citizenship, a key point on which he and Rubio diverge.
Ted Cruz is refreshing because of his blend of personal courage, off-the-charts intelligence, uniquely “American” personal story and Reagan-like ability to communicate.
The 2016 speculation will continue and the drumbeat will grow louder.
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