DALLAS — He was the target of then-candidate Donald Trump’s critical jabs during the 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s looking at giving it another go, even if it means going up against the former president again in 2024.
Cruz, in an interview with the “Truth Gazette” published Wednesday, said he would run again for president in 2024 "in a heartbeat.”
The campaign in 2016 “was the most fun I ever had in my life,” Cruz said, pointing out that the contest started out with 17 candidates and he “ended up placing second.”
It’s the kind of odds Texas’ junior senator said he thinks put him on good footing for a successful second run.
“There’s a reason, historically, that the runner-up is almost always the next nominee,” Cruz continued. “And that’s been true going back to Nixon, or Reagan, or McCain, or Romney that has played out repeatedly. You come in with just an enormous base of support.”
Trump has so far only hinted that he will run again in 2024. Meanwhile, he and his supporters continue to promote disproven allegations of voter fraud during the 2020 Election in which he lost to Joe Biden.
They say hindsight is 20/20, but there was a time when Cruz’s 2016 campaign must have been anything but fun for the Texas senator, particularly as Trump frequently used him as a verbal punching bag.
Trump nicknamed Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” early in the campaign and repeatedly called him that on stage during nationally televised Republican candidate debates. At one point, the two Republican candidates quibbled on Twitter, with Trump making a cruel remark about Cruz’s wife, Heidi.
The spat came after an ad from an anti-Trump group not affiliated with Cruz featured a decade-old, provocative picture of Melania Trump from a GQ photoshoot.
“Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad,” Trump tweeted at the time. “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!”
Cruz quipped back in a tweet that said the photo was not from his campaign.
“Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought,” he posted. Cruz then called Trump “classless” in another tweet.
Trump then shared an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife online. Cruz responded by trying to take the higher ground and shut the spat down, saying, “Donald, real men don’t attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life.”
Trump’s tweets have since been deleted from the social media platform. The former president’s account was suspended after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Trump eventually won the Republican nomination. Cruz, who had the second-most delegates at the Republican National Convention, initially declined to endorse him.
Cruz changed course months later, becoming a loyal Trump supporter in the Republican campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and then, when the former reality TV show host won the White House.
Cruz has since defended and advocated for the former president on several occasions, including leading the charge in urging Congress to reject certifying the 2020 Presidential Election vote on Jan. 6, while pro-Trump rioters massed outside of the Capitol and eventually breached its security in a violent attack.
Brilyn Hollyhand, the 15-year-old creator of the conservative “Truth Gazette,” posted the short video clip of Cruz’s interview to his Twitter account on Wednesday. The Alabama teenager said he created the news outlet to “fight the Fake News!”
After a clip of the interview was posted to his account and picked up by many national news outlets, the young journalist relished the national attention on his “scoop” interview with Cruz.
The full interview with Cruz will be released on Dec. 24, according to Hollyhand’s Twitter account.