UPDATE — The senator in a message posted to his Facebook page Wednesday responded to rumors of his presidential aspirations:
In my short tenure, my focus has been — and will remain — on two things: fighting for conservative principles in the Senate, and working to help elect strong conservatives to win a majority in the Senate in 2014. The Senate is the battlefield to defend liberty.I was elected because thousands of grassroots conservatives came together to protect the Constitution, shrink the federal government, and promote growth and opportunity. It is a continued source of amazement that the simple fact that I am working hard with like-minded Senators to keep my promise is seen as newsworthy and cause for wild speculation.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has his eye on the White House, National Review’s Robert Costa reports, citing “friends and confidants.”
“Cruz won’t talk about it publicly, and even privately he’s cagey about revealing too much of his thought process or intentions. But his interest is undeniable,” Costa writes.
“If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention,” one Republican insider told National Review. “Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”
The report notes that the Texas senator’s inner circle, comprised mostly of family members and campaign aides, hadn’t anticipated having these presidential talks so soon into his first term. However, it adds, his quick rise to fame has fueled presidential speculations.
“Ted won’t be opening an Iowa office anytime soon, but he’s listening,” one associate says. “This is all in the early stages; nothing is official. It’s just building on its own.”
Costa continues, adding some important details on the freshman senator:
Behind the scenes, there is a palpable fear on the right that the GOP will nominate a moderate Republican in 2016. There’s also growing unease with the field of likely contenders.
Enter Cruz. His supporters argue that he’d be a Barry Goldwater type — a nominee who would rattle the Republican establishment and reconnect the party with its base – but with better electoral results.
Republican power brokers from the early-primary states have noticed. They tell me that the Cruz factor is a frequent topic of discussion among state-based strategists.
Cruz isn’t worried that his birth certificate will be a problem. Though he was born in Canada, he and his advisers are confident that they could win any legal battle over his eligibility. Cruz’s mother was a U.S. citizen when he was born, and he considers himself to be a natural-born citizen.
He’s also tighter with Republican donors than most people realize. Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, is a close friend — one of many donors with Cruz ties. Four years ago, Thiel poured more than $250,000 into Cruz’s aborted race for Texas attorney general, and he has recently donated millions to groups supporting Cruz, such as the Club for Growth. Sources close to other top Republican donors tell me that the senator is as good at wooing financiers as he is at wooing the Tea Party.
“You bet, he’s on my radar,” said Chad Connelly, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “Conservatives think he’s a rock star. I hear about him from everybody.”
“We all see a path, and he does, too,” a Cruz colleague adds. “This isn’t someone who needs to be told the obvious. He didn’t run for the Senate to get cozy, so no one who knows him is surprised that he’s at least looking at it.”
The recent debates over gun control and immigration reform, and Sen. Cruz’s vocal position on both issues, have added to his standing in the Republican Party, building him into what some call a figure of conservative purity.
“He’s the purest of the young conservative senators — that’s how we see him,” one consultant told Costa.
“If he thinks this country needs bold leadership, he’s not going to shy away,” a former colleague adds. “He is one of the most confident people I know, and he’d run to win.”
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Featured image AP photos. This post has been updated.