During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump accused Sen. Ted Cruz of election fraud, described him as “very unstable,” accused his father of aiding in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and his insulted his wife. For all his embarrassment, Cruz (and the rest of the GOP field) got crushed by Trump in the primary, and then he shamelessly groveled and worked to get the man who called his wife ugly elected to the presidency.
That, apparently, is Ted Cruz’s idea of “fun.”
Cruz was asked in a Thursday interview whether he was thinking about another run for president and laughed. “Well, sure. I’m certainly looking at it,” Cruz told Newsmax.
“I’ll tell you, 2016 was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” Cruz added. “We came incredibly close, we had an incredible grassroots army.”
Cruz did not, in fact, come “incredibly close.” Trump won nearly twice as many votes as Cruz did, and effectively wrapped up the race by mid-March, though Cruz continued to drag it into May and even, albeit briefly, into the convention. Ultimately, Cruz won fewer than a dozen Republican primaries; Trump won 41.
After Trump became president, Cruz went on a charm offensive to win back the support of his biggest presidential rival, and it worked: during one rally for Cruz’s re-election to Senate in 2018, Trump gave the senator formerly known as “Lyin’ Ted” a new moniker: “Beautiful Ted.” Cruz, in turn, was a main booster of the evidence-free effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election outcome, and he ultimately voted to reject certification of the results in Arizona and Pennsylvania after a pro-Trump mob stormed the halls of Congress.
If Cruz wants to take another shot at becoming president, he may once again have to go up against Trump. Since leaving office and despite two impeachments before he (reluctantly) did so, the former president has repeatedly suggested that he’ll make another bid for the presidency in 2024, by which point he’ll be 78 years old.
A Quinnipiac poll in May found that two-thirds of Republicans want Trump to run for president in 2024, and 85 percent said they want candidates running for office to mostly agree with Trump.
If Trump decided not to run, Cruz would have to deal with an undoubtedly crowded field that could include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s recently been the only person who’s even come close to Trump for the favor of the Republican base. DeSantis narrowly bested Trump in a straw poll at a conservative conference in Denver last month, while Cruz came in a very distant third.
Cruz could of course just stay in the Senate and get embarrassed that way: in February, as Texas was being crushed by a power outage caused by a breakdown in the state’s energy grid (which left up to 700 people dead, by one estimate), Cruz fled the state for Cancún and then later blamed the excursion on his daughters. If that doesn’t scream “future president,” what does?