You may have thought you were done with Ted Cruz. But you would be wrong.
Cruz’s campaign for president lasted far longer than anyone expected, in large part because he is a smart (if smarmy) candidate. But bowing to the inevitable last week, Cruz ended his campaign.
For this year. For 2020–that’s another question altogether. In fact, Cruz is already doing his best to ensure he is the frontrunner in 2020.
Here are five signs that Cruz is positioning himself for the next presidential race.
1.His withdrawal speech was about the future. When candidates pull the plug on their campaign, the speech generally follows a certain pattern, including the promise that the fight will go on. With Cruz, that part of the speech was especially heartfelt. “I am not suspending our fight to defend the constitution, to defend the Judeo-Christian values that built America,” Cruz promised. “Our movement will continue and I give you my word that I will continue this fight with all of my strength and all of my ability. You are extraordinary and we will continue to fight next week and next month and next year and together we will continue as long as god grants us the strength to fight on.” Hardly the words of a man who was throwing in the towel for good.
2.Heidi Cruz compares her husband’s campaign to ending slavery. Okay, not exactly a milestone in racial sensitivity, but consider the source. But in comments to Ted’s National Prayer Team this week, Heidi tried to buck up the group’s spirits. “Be full of faith and so full of joy that this team was chosen to fight a long battle,” Heidi said. “Think that slavery — it took 25 years to defeat slavery. That is a lot longer than four years.” The implication is that Cruz isn’t going to give up after one try. Think crusade, not campaign.
3.Ted is hinting that 2016 isn’t quite over. In comments to fellow wingnut Glenn Beck, Cruz was willing to offer himself up as nominee in case Trump manages to self-destruct before he is officially nominated. “The reason we suspended the race last week is with Indiana’s loss, I didn’t see a viable path to victory. If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly,” Cruz said. In a nod to reality, Cruz admitted that he wasn’t holding his breath (too bad).
4. He’s planning to control the platform at this year’s GOP convention. Cruz lost the campaign, but he’s not about to give up on steering the party in his direction. Cruz is assuming (with good reason) that Trump will go down in flames in November. So he’s positioning himself to call the shots in the aftermath. One way of doing that is by setting the policies that Republicans will have to follow. In essence, Cruz is ensuring that the party’s point of view is the same of his and not just for this election cycle. If Trump fails as a candidate, Cruz will argue it was because he never truly embraced the platform. Guess who will.
5. Cruz is running for re-election to his Senate seat. Normally, this is a sign that the candidate isn’t mounting a presidential campaign. After all, being Senator is (in theory) full-time job. But Cruz needs to run for re-election. His appeal (for want of a better word) is as the anti-establishment candidate. He loses his biggest selling point for his base if he isn’t in the Senate to grandstand with destructive gestures and enrage his fellow Republicans. The last thing Cruz can afford–or stomach–is not being the center of attention. We can count on him doing everything possible to hold the spotlight right through 2020.