(Editor's note: This is not an endorsement. Leading up to the 2016 presidential nominating contests - which rest assured have already begun - all leading possible contenders will be analyzed from a conservative perspective. We will highlight the major benefits and pitfalls of all possible candidates.)
US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is perhaps the biggest conservative star to have emerged from the 2012 election cycle
. In his brief tenure in the Senate, he has positioned himself as the leading voice of opposition to the big government agenda being pushed by both the liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans. Cruz has stood uncompromisingly for conservatism and has built a strong connection with movement conservatives. But simply being conservative doesn't make one qualified to be President. It also doesn't mean one would be a good candidate. So, does Ted Cruz have what it takes to be a strong contender in 2016?
Short Political Career, Long Constitutional Resume
While many politicians often have law degrees, it seems few lawyers-turned-politicians have an impressive legal resume before running for office. Ted Cruz shatters that longstanding trend. And although Cruz lacks political experience, he more than makes up for that with a resume filled with defending conservative constitutional principles on a meaningful level. After serving briefly in the George W. Bush White House, Cruz was appointed Solicitor General of Texas
where he would later argue - and win - major cases before the United States Supreme Court. In one major victory, Cruz drafted the legal brief that eventually led to the overturning of a portion of a federal law that made gun ownership
in Washington, D.C. effectively illegal. Cruz has been noted for his exceptional oratory skill that, as luck would have it, exists even without the use of a teleprompter.
The Canadian, Hispanic, Texan, Conservative
Eligibility for office
will probably come up for Cruz if he decides to run. His parents were working in the oil industry in Canada at the time of his birth, meaning he was not born in the United States. But just as a child born to an American family while on vacation in France would still be a US citizen, so to is Cruz. We anticipate that he will be hassled over the issue by liberals given the attention paid to such winners as Donald Trump
during his Obama birthplace obsession. More importantly, Cruz is a Texan. And having roots in Texas is often a winning formula. George W. Bush twice won the presidency, and Rick Perry raised a ton of money and was handed the lead in the 2012 primary, but had trouble backing up the hype. Like Obama, Cruz has a white mother and minority (Hispanic) father. His father came from Cuba and did not speak any English when he came to the United States. Cruz's family background could prove a compelling story for voters.
A Sarah Palin Ally
If Cruz does decide to run for president in 2016, he probably has one very strong voice in his corner: 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin
. Of course, this would also require Palin didn't offer herself up as a candidate. Palin did not endorse any candidate during the 2012 primary cycle probably because, like most conservatives, she wasn't thrilled with the field. Palin is clearly thrilled with Cruz. She was arguably the chief vote-mover in Cruz's upset victory in the 2012 Republican primary against a popular Lt. Governor. Cruz even credited Palin's support with his eventual victory. And while Palin has supported many other conservatives and helped launch political careers, few outside of Cruz seem willing to associate too much with Palin. Given Palin's general success in picking winners and Palin's popularity with grassroots conservatives, it's probably a smart move for Cruz.
Perhaps taking a cue from Rand Paul
, Cruz began intensifying his conservative positioning in 2013 to great effect. Before becoming more vocal, Cruz often placed distantly in hypothetical primary match-ups against other 2016 candidates. But as Marco Rubio became the face of the Democrat's weak immigration bill and his numbers started to take a fall, a void was created on the conservative side of the presidential preference list. Rand Paul's surge filled much of that void, and Cruz started to fill the rest of it. If both Cruz and Paul were to run, they would be battling for the same chunk of grassroots conservatives. Other possible conservative contenders include Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. It would be a tough field for Cruz as Paul would have the upper-hand with younger and more libertarian voters while conservatives tend to like Governor's like Walker and Jindal as presidential nominees. Cruz has certainly been building his national profile the right way: from the bottom up. And there is always the possibility of having Palin's support as a wild card, which could once again help put a candidate over the top.