Cruz’s 2022 Iowa swing puts Texas senator firmly back in 2024 spotlight

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Retaking the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections is at the top of Sen. Ted Cruz’s agenda this weekend as the conservative senator from Texas makes his first trip to Iowa this election cycle.

But the swing through the state that for half a century has kicked off the race for the White House by the 2016 Republican presidential nomination runner-up is sparking more speculation that Cruz is gearing up for another White House run in 2024.

“We’re going to take back the majority and the majority in the House of Representatives run straight through Iowa,” Cruz told Fox News in an interview Saturday after Cruz spoke at a fundraiser for first-term Rep. Ashley Hinson, a rising star in the GOP who narrowly defeated a Democratic incumbent last November and who could face a challenging reelection next year.

Republicans need a net gain of just five House seats in next year’s midterm elections to retake the House majority they lost in the 2018 midterms, and this weekend Cruz is lending his support in what he described as “two pivotal races.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Iowa headlines a fundraising event for GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa in Central City, Iowa on August 28, 2021.
(Ashley Hinson campaign)

On Sunday, the senator will be the main attraction at a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Nicole Hasso, who’s running to challenge Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. The two-term lawmaker and only Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation is being heavily targeted by the GOP in next year’s midterms.

Cruz endorsed Hasso’s primary bid earlier this month and he called her “a strong conservative, a strong Christian. She’s exactly the kind of candidate we need to be supporting to flip seats from blue to red.”

The senator’s trip to Iowa is part of his larger effort to help fellow Republicans running in next year’s contests, and is a follow up to his “25 for 20” program to assist GOP congressional candidates during the 2020 cycle.

But 2024 hovers over Cruz’s trip to Iowa. 

Cruz told Newsmax earlier this year that he’s “certainly looking at it.” 

The conservative firebrand – who used a powerful ground game and strong evangelical support to edge then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to win the 2016 Iowa caucuses – told Fox News ahead of his trip that “I look forward to doing everything humanly possible to help pull us back from the brink and toward freedom and prosperity.”

And he highlighted that “I have no doubt in the battle for 2024, Iowa will play a vital role.”

In his conversation with Fox News after his speech on Saturday, Cruz continued the praise.

“It’s great to be back. I love the state of Iowa. I love the people of Iowa. It’s been five years since I’ve been in Linn County. I haven’t been here in a long time. And it’s wonderful to see so many friends,” he noted.

And pointing to the state’s longtime lead off position in the presidential nominating calendar, he  stressed that “the men and women of Iowa, they have a responsibility nationally. They have a responsibility every four years that they vet candidates in both parties. And the people of Iowa take that responsibility seriously.”

Rubio making first trip to Iowa this cycle

Cruz isn’t the only 2016 GOP presidential candidate who may have national ambitions again in 2024 who’s stopping in Iowa this week.

Rubio spends Monday and Tuesday in the state, as he headlines a couple of events including an Iowa GOP reception.

The two-term senator first elected to the Senate in the 2010 Tea Party wave faces a potentially challenging reelection next year, and that’s his campaign focus. 

“I’ve got things I want to finish working on in the Senate, and that’s right before me now and that’s what I’m going to focus on,” he said in a June interview with Fox News.

But Rubio’s not ruling out making another run for the White House in 2024 or down the road.

“Sure, it could be. It depends,” he said.

Pompeo stops in N.H. this week

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s been flirting with a potential 2024 presidential run, stops on Tuesday in New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the White House race.

The trip by the former congressman from Kansas, who served as CIA director and then America’s top diplomat during the Trump administration, follows visits earlier this summer in Iowa and South Carolina, which holds the first southern primary and votes third in the GOP nominating calendar.

Asked about 2024, Pompeo, a Fox News contributor, said in an interview last month that “my wife and I will pray and we’ll think our way through it and when we hit 2023, we’ll figure our way through it.”

Do Floridians want DeSantis to run for president?

By a 59%-35% margin, Florida voters say they would not like to see GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis run for president in 2024, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.

Two-thirds of Republicans questioned said they’d like to see their governor make a White House bid in 2024, but support for such a move dropped to 35% among independents and just 2% of Democrats.

DeSantis – a conservative congressman who was narrowly elected Florida governor in 2018 with the support from then-President Trump – saw his popularity surge among Republican voters in his state and around the nation last year and early this year, thanks in large part to his combative pushback against COVID restrictions amid the pandemic. And that’s fueled speculation about likely national ambitions. DeSantis has become the clear second choice behind Trump in early 2024 GOP nomination polling.

DeSantis has faced withering criticism in recent weeks for his push to ban mask mandates in the state’s public schools, as new COVID cases in Florida soar due to the highly infections Delta variant.

Fox News’ Robert Sherman contributed to this report

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