Cruz, GOPers begin jockeying for 2016

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz waves as he arrives at a polling station to speak to media and voters in Dallas, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz waves as he arrives at a polling station to speak to media and voters in Dallas, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.
AP Photo/LM Otero

After just four months on the job, Ted Cruz is already eyeing a better office: The Oval Office.

Friends and confidants tell the National Review that the Republican senator from Texas is already considering running for the top job in 2016.

“Ted won’t be opening an Iowa office anytime soon, but he’s listening,” a longtime Cruz associate told the magazine. “This is all in the early stages; nothing is official. It’s just building on its own.”

“If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention,” another unnamed source told the Review. “Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”

2016 is still years away, but these intentions could mean more of the same combative behavior that’s secured Cruz a divisive reputation this spring: last week, he called his Republican colleagues “squishes” who don’t act on principle.

Cruz gave this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference keynote, earning the praise of Sarah Palin, who celebrated him as a conservative who “chews barbed wire and spits out rust.”

A presidential run without allies could prove problematic. Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said Tuesday that dissing colleagues and spilling the beans on off-the-record, closed-door meetings will come back to bite Cruz later.

Cruz isn’t the only Republican eying 2016.

Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio, the Republican leading the charge for bipartisan immigration reform (leading may be a strong word, Rubio recently admitted he doubts the bill will pass in the House), is already polling well for a potential run. Many see his participation in the immigration reform as a major selling point for future national campaigns. A Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll released Tuesday found no clear GOP frontrunner, but pegged Rubio as the most likely GOP candidate, with 18% of a Republican primary vote.

Gov. Jeb Bush came in second in the FDU poll, with 16% of the popular vote, but Mom isn’t on board: Barbara Bush recently told reporters she thinks America has “had enough Bushes.” Another poll found the former Florida Governor polling at 40% of a popular vote, losing against the Democrat’s 2016 favorite: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in second, with 16% of a potential Republican primary. On Wednesday, he released his first ad of his gubernatorial reelection campaign. The message—that compromise isn’t a dirty word—seamlessly sews together conservatism with Christie’s signature no-nonsense pragmatism.

It’s a message that’s likely to resonate with audiences outside New Jersey, too, Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris told the Morning Joe panel on Wednesday.

Who do you have your eye on for 2016? Tell us in the comments below!