Ted Cruz Makes 2024 Presidential Announcement

Cruz has long dreamed of becoming president.

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Despite the fact that Republicans are waiting to see whether former President Donald Trump runs again, Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas, has never backed down from his ambitions.

“The race in ’24 will very much hinge on whatever President Trump decides to say and do,” Cruz told NBC News. “President Trump is going to make his decision whether or not he runs, or nobody else is going to make that decision for him. And I expect that everyone else will react accordingly when he does make that decision.”

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While he has discussed his interest in another presidential run, he told The Truth Gazette, a conservative website for teenagers, in December that his second-place finish in the 2016 primaries gives him confidence that he will win. “There’s a reason historically that the runner-up is almost always the next nominee,” he said, recalling a number of second-place finishers who went on to win nominations.

Cruz is likely to start from behind if he decides to run again. According to early polls of the 2024 field, Cruz trails Trump and other GOP candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. According to a Morning Consult/Politico survey done last week, Cruz garnered 2 percent of Republicans’ support in a GOP primary, while Trump received 50%.

“I don’t think he would run against Trump,” one of Cruz’s close associates said. “I don’t know that Trump’s going to run. But if Trump doesn’t run, I’m quite certain he will run.”

Even as he waits for Trump to decide, he doesn’t seem to be waiting to start working behind the scenes to create another presidential campaign.

A number of the closest advisers from his 2016 campaign remain close. These include Jeff Roe and David Polyansky. An aide from another office in the Republican Senate pointed out that Cruz has already appointed people aimed at 2024: including Steve Guest, formerly the Republican National Committee’s director of rapid response, who is now among his senior advisers.

NBC News spoke with almost a dozen Republicans regarding Cruz, including former aides and Cruz allies, who disagreed on whether he could win in a post-Trump era.

It has been suggested that Cruz is the person most ready to take over post-Trump. However, others argue that he can’t recover from the damage Donald Trump caused during the primary campaign in 2016. And furthermore, they are disappointed in Cruz due to his handling of the election and his recent softening of his remarks about the Capitol rioters being terrorists after Biden won.

Republicans in Washington cringed as they watched that latest Fox News episode and wondered whether Cruz has his finger on the pulse of voters.

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The day before the anniversary of the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol, Cruz referred to it as a “terrorist attack” — something he had said over a dozen times before. Yet this time he was slammed by the conservative media. Tucker Carlson slammed him on Fox News’ most-watched program.

On Carlson’s show the next day, Cruz apologized and said that he had made a mistake and called his verbiage “sloppy” and “frankly dumb.” He also added that he meant to call only those who assaulted police officers terrorists.

However, this won’t likely satisfy those who support Trump most fervently.

“America First deplorables would never vote for Ted Cruz,” declared John Fredericks, Trump’s Virginia campaign chairman in 2016 and 2020, as well as a host on Real America’s Voice. “Especially after the way he threw Trump under the bus and called those people that went to the rally [terrorists] and all that. I mean, the guy’s done. Forget it.”

Cruz defended his time on Carlson’s show.

“Look, I needed to do that interview,” Cruz said, explaining that his original remarks “were being taken out of context.”

One former Cruz aide, who expressed how enjoyable it was to work for Cruz, described the walk-back as “a huge mistake” that disheartened many.

“Funny enough, people still operate in fear,” the former aide said. “I guess it’s less about Trump and more about his voters.”

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Polyansky, who is Cruz’s former chief of staff, said that Cruz has bounced back from other “punches to the gut” like his appearance on Carlson’s show before. Cruz caught hell at the 2016 GOP convention when he told attendees to “vote your conscience” and when he went to Cancún with his family while millions in Texas lost power during a powerful winter storm.

“In the heat of the moment, with the media snarling and swirling, it’s easy to look at these moments as career enders,” Polyansky said. “And maybe for other politicians, things like this would cripple them. But for him, he’s got backbone and a trusted brand. Even if you don’t like him, you kind of have to respect him, even if you do it while grumbling. Because he always bounces back.”

With Trump being the top pick amongst the GOP for 2024, and DeSantis next if Trump doesn’t run, it’s hard to see Cruz make that big of a comeback, but time will tell.