Noting that he ended up “placing second” during the 2016 GOP primaries, Cruz said there is a historical precedent for runner-up candidates like him to get the nod the next time they jump into the presidential race.
“There’s a reason historically that the runner-up is almost always the next nominee,” Cruz said. “That’s been true going back to Nixon or Reagan, or McCain or Romney. That’s played out repeatedly.”
Republicans who come in second in the party’s primaries, Cruz said, jump into the next race “with just an enormous base of support.” He also noted that, in 2016, his campaign raised “over $92 million.”
“That’s the most money any Republican has ever raised in the history of presidential elections,” he told Hollyhand.
Open Secrets, which tracks fundraising, showed that Cruz raised the most of the also-rans (those who didn’t get the nomination) in the GOP primary.
However, Cruz’s theory didn’t work for Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania who came in second in the 2012 Republican nomination contest but was nowhere near the top of the party’s pack in 2016.
Cruz was one of 17 Republican candidates in the GOP primaries in 2016. The nomination ultimately went to Trump, but only after an explosive race in which once-promising candidates like Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and George H.W. Bush’s son, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were defeated.
“I ran in 2016; it was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” Cruz said.
In July, Cruz also mentioned that he was “certainly looking” at a 2024 presidential bid in an interview with conservative outlet Newsmax. His current Senate term ends in 2025. A spokesman for Cruz did not immediately respond for a request to comment on the senator’s 2024 plans.
While most of the GOP’s candidates in 2016 entered the race critical of Trump — before ultimately endorsing him — the showdowns between Cruz and Trump were often the most bitter.
At one point in the 2016 race, Trump insulted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and suggested that Cruz’s father may have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz, meanwhile, often called Trump a “coward” and a “pathological liar,” among other things. Cruz ended up dropping out of the race in May 2016 after losing the Indiana primary to Trump. He endorsed Trump in September.
Trump has signaled that he might run again in 2024. If so, he would be the heavy favorite to win the nomination, despite being impeached twice and facing multiple investigations related to his businesses.