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Ted Cruz for president? What it would mean for the GOP in 2016

New reports suggest that the Tea Party favorite and newly elected senator is already eyeing a bid for the White House

Is Ted Cruz getting ready to throw his hat in the ring in 2016? The National Review seems to think so. According to the magazine's report citing Cruz's "friends and confidants," the Texas senator is seriously considering a presidential run.

The junior senator from Texas, who was just elected in November, has several things going for him. As David Frum notes in The Daily Beast, "Texas is home to the biggest lode of GOP donor money in the country." Not to mention that one of Cruz's close pals is PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who, according to The National Review, contributed $250,000 to Cruz's campaign when he was running for Texas attorney general.

Cruz also has serious cred with Tea Party conservatives. Before his keynote speech at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cruz was introduced by Sarah Palin, who, according to The Houston Chronicle, called Cruz a fearless leader who "chews barbed wire and spits out rust."

It seems fair to say that if the point of presidential primaries were just to fire up the base, the Republican Party would be thrilled with Cruz's candidacy. Alas, the winner goes on to battle for independent swing-state voters in the general election — a job that, if the RNC's post-election "autopsy" is to believed, might be better suited to a more moderate candidate.

And though Cruz remains incredibly popular with Tea Party voters, he is not as beloved by his Republican cohorts in the Senate and the mainstream media. Earlier this week, Cruz referred to some of his fellow senators as "squishes" for not standing up for their conservative principles, according to Politico. That didn't play well in all Republican circles.

"There is being principled, and then there is being a jerk," wrote The Washington Post's conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. "Putting down your colleagues to boost your own street cred with the base falls into the latter category."

Infighting like this has some Democrats hoping that the rumors are true, and that Cruz really does run. TPM's Josh Marshall could barely contain his joy on Twitter

Clearly, the first real challenge to a Cruz candidacy would come from within his own party. Will the GOP reform in 2016 and try to appeal to young, independent, and Hispanic voters? Or will the Republican Party attempt to motivate its conservative base? One thing is for sure: Ted Cruz would make the 2016 presidential race a lot more entertaining to watch.

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