U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, continues to stoke speculation about his 2016 ambitions as he spends Tuesday in Iowa. Some of the stops on his travel plans include a speech to NICHE, the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, in the afternoon and an evening stop in Mason City for the Cerro Gordo Republican Central Committee.
With NICHE, Cruz could hope to find some 2008 Mike Huckabee magic. Huckabee’s tiny caucus staff found a way to organize the home school community in a way not seen in Iowa before, one of the ways he shocked many on his way to a caucus win. 2012 candidates noticed that and courted the group heavily that cycle. In Cerro Gordo, Cruz gets face time in a market outside of the state’s largest in Des Moines. And he gets to share the night with social conservative favorite in the state, 4th District Congressman Steve King. And for $25, those in attendance get to hear Cruz and also receive a gourmet cupcake and coffee. A picture with Cruz goes for $100. And they still get the cupcake and coffee.
While Cruz is visiting the state, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is reaching out in his own way. Bush has treaded carefully as he navigates a potential 2016 run, wary of any possible voter fatigue from Iowans and others because of his one-term presidential father, George H.W., and his two-term presidential brother, George W. “Some people would say we elected the wrong Bush last time,” laughed Doug Gross, one of Iowa’s most visible Republican strategists over the past two decades.
Whether that was merely a joke or not, the line Gross used during Channel 13’s The Insiders could pique interest with the politically curious. Gross was not only his party’s nominee for governor in 2002. He was also Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s former chief of staff, a prominent Des Moines attorney and remains one of Branstad’s closest advisers. But perhaps more telling could be that Gross was George W. Bush’s finance chair in Iowa.
He said he has spoken with Jeb Bush about a caucus campaign and presidential run. Gross revealed a few details about the conversation. “I think he has interest,” Gross said, “I don’t think he’s made up his mind. I think he’s going to evaluate where things are.”
When? Gross believes Bush’s decision will come late this Summer or early Fall. “I think he’s evaluating it very seriously,” Gross added. As Gross looks out at the potential 2016 field, he summed up his thinking on Bush saying, “Jeb Bush was an outstanding governor of Florida. Potential to unite the party.”