Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is insisting he’s made no decisions about running for president in 2016, even after an unnamed Cruz aide said he more than 90% likely to launch a bid for the White House.
“Clearly we have an overzealous supporter out there making freelance comments, but to be clear, no decision has been made. Whoever this ‘anonymous advisor’ was, he or she had no authority to speak, and doesn't know what they're talking about,” Cruz wrote on his Facebook page.
The statement came after the unnamed source told the National Journal, "At this point it's 90/10 he's in.” The advisor added: “And honestly, 90 is lowballing it."
While Cruz may not yet have made a decision on a bid, he’s clearly positioning himself for as a possible contender. He’s visited key, states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina; is brushing up on foreign policy; and has started building up a political operation outside his Senate office.
In a recent press release, Cruz announced that Chip Roy, his Senate chief of staff, would move to the senator’s political team. Cruz won his seat in 2012 and is not up for reelection until 2018 in a state unlikely to give him much electoral trouble, so the move strongly signals that Cruz is eyeing an election before that one.
And in his statement Monday, Cruz did not deny that he’s considering a run -- only that he’s already made up his mind.
Cruz appears to be positioning himself as a conservative who can win over the populist Republican base on domestic policy, while appealing to hawkish party elites on national security. He’s taken direct shots at Sen. Rand Paul, another likely presidential contender who represents the other foreign policy wing of the GOP.
While Paul has gained real traction in his party, he remains at odds with many Republican donors, pundits, and operatives, who are more likely to favor the kind of strong national security posture championed by Ronald Reagan. These party elites view Paul’s desire to cut defense spending, foreign aid, and overseas bases as a grave threat, and they will likely work hard to defeat Paul in a GOP primary.
Other potential candidates, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, share Cruz’s conservative views on national security, but are less appealing to the base.