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2016 campaign checklist: Cruz

Friday - 5/2/2014, 4:46am  ET

WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A look at preparations by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "My focus is entirely on working for Texans in the U.S. Senate." -- February. Standard disclaimer when asked about running.

Book: Yes, book deal disclosed by his agent in April. Also, a coloring book featuring Cruz has sold tens of thousands of copies since its December release.

Iowa: Yes, four visits in eight months. In March, Cruz addressed influential Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines while also keynoting a packed county GOP event in Mason City. Went pheasant hunting and spoke at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October, addressed conservative Christians in August and met privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project in July.

New Hampshire: Yes, three times. Headlined the spring GOP Lincoln Day Dinner at a North Country ski resort in April, two weeks after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Manchester. First came for August 2013 state GOP committee fundraiser.

South Carolina: Yes, speech at The Citadel military college in April was third visit in a year, following event with religious conservatives in November and speech to annual state GOP dinner last May.

Foreign travel: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012 even before taking office. Again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.

Meet the money: Yes, met in March with top California conservative donors and keynoted a February GOP fundraiser packed with high-rollers in the ballroom of Donald Trump's Palm Beach, Fla., estate -- though those gathered offered louder applause for a short video from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz also huddled with Trump in New York City in November and has a list of potential donors that's still rising after collecting more than 1.5 million signatures for the online petition "Don'tFundObamaCare," which he began in 2013.

Networking: Yes, vigorously. Spoke by video to NRA's April leadership forum. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after landing the group's coveted keynote role in 2013. He's engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives in Texas and beyond, and pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, while also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders. Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate.

Hog the TV: Yes, several Sunday news show appearances already this year, plenty last year. Frequent guest on Fox News and CNN.

Do something: Threatened to filibuster February legislation raising the federal debt limit to avoid a government default, forcing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and much of the GOP Senate leadership to vote against him and defy the tea party. His 21-hour, 19-minute quasi-filibuster on the Senate floor in September helped spark the government shutdown the following month. Argued before U.S. Supreme Court nine times, eight of them as Texas solicitor general (2003-2008).

Take a stand: Cruz stood all night during his marathon Senate speech that began by opposing "Obamacare" but veered into his reading "Green Eggs and Ham." He joked at the Gridiron Club dinner in March that the speech featured hours of "my favorite sound" -- his own voice. His encore debt-limit filibuster threat only further embodied core aspirations of the tea party.

Baggage: Reputation as an upstart who seeks out controversy, which is also part of his appeal. Has always been polarizing in his own party, but GOP leadership was downright enraged with him after February's debt-limit filibuster threat. Also has family baggage: His father has called for sending President Barack Obama "back to Kenya." But Ted Cruz has birther baggage of his own: Questions about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother. Deflection: Cruz promised in the summer of 2013 to renounce his Canadian citizenship -- but still hasn't done so.

Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Has been one of the largest beneficiaries of former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, and has gotten millions of dollars and grassroots logical support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Ending Spending PAC. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz's 2013 tour of Texas and different states, opposing the health care law. His chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 2010 book about federal overreach.

Social media: Active on Facebook and Twitter. Upset animal advocates by using both to post a picture of himself and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, kneeling next to a tiger skin rug. Photos once had Cruz in hunting gear, but he's now seen wearing his usual suit and tie in photos for both his campaign and Senate accounts.


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