Skip to main content

Ted Cruz for president? Sure, in 2020

By Ed Morrissey, Special to CNN
August 16, 2013 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Edward Morrissey: Ted Cruz has bright future with GOP, some say he's mulling presidential run
  • He says that would be great -- in perhaps 2020; same with young comers Rand Paul, Rubio
  • He says there are far more seasoned possible candidates in GOP governor ranks
  • Morrissey: Paul, Cruz, Rubio could well be presidents, but should wait till 2020, 2024

Editor's note: Edward Morrissey is a senior editor and correspondent for the conservative commentary website hotair.com

(CNN) -- From the first moment I spoke with Ted Cruz, it was obvious that the former solicitor general for Texas had a bright future in politics.

My first interview with Cruz, at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in 2010, came less than a month after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz, who was not quite 40 at the time and still contemplating his political future, already had the ACA firmly in his sights.

"We are facing from Washington the greatest threat to our liberty we have ever seen," he said, "I think we have to fight on every front to repeal Obamacare."

Cruz didn't want to shy away from a court fight, but predicted that conservatives would have to win with voters more than judges to succeed.

Edward Morrissey
Edward Morrissey

Less than a year later, Cruz would throw his hat in the ring to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate and continue his fight from Washington rather than Texas.

After only seven months in town, Cruz's political talents are obvious. His drive to push the Republican Party into a budget showdown over Obamacare reflects his passionate opposition to the ACA and a shrewd assessment of the temperature of the grassroots base. He's also a staunch opponent of the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill, a position based first on his principles but clearly consonant with many rank-and-file Republicans.

The immigration bill pitted him against another talented Republican newcomer, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, one of its authors and vocal proponents, although both are allied on the strategy to overturn Obamacare.

Cruz's rapid ascent has rallied conservative activists and has many speculating over his potential impact on the 2016 presidential race. In fact, enough people are speculating on it that Donald Trump and Ann Coulter have been moved to cast doubts on his eligibility to run. (Cruz was born in Canada, but his mother is a native of Delaware and a U.S. citizen, which would qualify Cruz as native-born under the broadly accepted definition of the term.)

Opinion: Ted Cruz can be president, probably

Cruz has recently begun to tour Iowa, usually a good signal of presidential ambition, while Slate reported this week that social conservatives in the state are pushing to get Cruz into the 2016 race.

Sen. Feinstein: 'I'm not a sixth-grader'
Sen. Cruz focused on defunding Obamacare
Rand Paul eyes presidential bid

No one doubts that Cruz has a bright future in the Republican Party, but that doesn't mean the future is now.

Cruz, like Rubio and Rand Paul, have only barely arrived on the national stage and are many years younger than their sell-by date. None of the three has held executive office yet. Both Paul and Cruz have only won one election in their career. All three have made an extraordinary impact as freshmen senators, but they are still mainly untested outside of a single electoral cycle.

Additionally, Republicans have more options: By the time 2015 rolls around and candidates have to commit to a run, a number of GOP governors will be staking out their ground as well.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will almost certainly use his considerable media presence and blunt style to launch the next phase of his career. Scott Walker has to win a re-election bid in Wisconsin in 2014; a win will re-establish his fighting credentials on budgets and reform.

Mike Pence got some attention early in the 2012 cycle as a potential presidential contender, but decided to go home to Indiana to add executive office to his already-impressive conservative credentials. Susana Martinez, who like Cruz was given a featured-speaker slot at the national GOP convention last year, should sail to a 2014 re-election in New Mexico, with approval ratings that have never dropped below 60%.

This wealth of proven executive talent, most from governors who have courted the conservative grassroots, makes the Beltway bids from freshmen senators look even more like long shots.

That's not to say that we may not see a President Ted Cruz in the future. With his talent and political savvy and his potential for staying power, no one should count him out in the long run. Like Paul and Rubio, though, his potential presidential future may be 2020 or 2024.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Edward Morrissey.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 25, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2312 GMT (0712 HKT)
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0335 GMT (1135 HKT)
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT