2016 campaign checklist: Ted Cruz

WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

EDITOR’S NOTE: 2014 is a year of auditioning, positioning, networking and just plain hard work for people who might run for president in 2016. There’s plenty to do, and the pace has quickened since The Associated Press last took a broad look at preparations for a potential campaign. Here’s a look at one prospective candidate.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A look at preparations by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: “My focus is entirely on working for Texans in the U.S. Senate.” — He said this, not in Texas or the Senate, but in South Carolina. Says similar wherever he goes.

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Book: Yes, book deal disclosed by his agent in April. Also, a coloring book featuring Cruz has sold tens of thousands of copies since its December release.

Iowa: Yes, four visits in eight months. In March, Cruz addressed influential Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines while also keynoting a packed county GOP event in Mason City. Went pheasant hunting and spoke at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October, addressed conservative Christians in August and met privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project in July.

New Hampshire: Yes, three times. Headlined the spring GOP Lincoln Day Dinner at a North Country ski resort in April, two weeks after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Manchester. First came for August 2013 state GOP committee fundraiser.

South Carolina: Yes, speech at The Citadel military college in April was third visit in a year, following event with religious conservatives in November and speech to annual state GOP dinner last May.

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Foreign travel: Yes, Ukraine in May, meeting leaders of the protest movement that ousted the country’s pro-Russian president. Visited Israel, Ukraine, Poland and Estonia to meet various leaders on the same trip. Has been to Israel two other times since 2012, including as part of Senate Republican delegation that went to Afghanistan, too.

Meet the money: Yes, met in March with top California conservatives and keynoted a February GOP fundraiser packed with high-rollers in the ballroom of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate — though those gathered offered louder applause for a short video from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz also huddled with Trump in New York City in November and has a list of potential donors that’s still growing after collecting more than 1.5 million signatures for the online petition “Don’tFundObamaCare,” which he began in 2013.

Networking: Yes, vigorously. Gave well-received speech and won presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in late May. Was among headliners of Western Republican Leadership Conference in Utah in April, the same month he addressed the NRA’s April leadership forum by video. Crowd-pleaser at Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after landing group’s coveted keynote role in 2013. Has engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives in Texas and beyond. Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate.

Hog the TV: Yes, now a mainstay on Sunday news shows. Frequent guest on Fox News and CNN.

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Do something: Threatened to filibuster February legislation raising the federal debt limit to avoid a government default, forcing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and much of the GOP Senate leadership to vote against him and defy the tea party. His 21-hour, 19-minute quasi-filibuster on the Senate floor in September helped spark the government shutdown the following month. Argued before U.S. Supreme Court nine times, eight of them as Texas solicitor general (2003-2008).

Take a stand: Cruz stood all night during his marathon Senate speech that began by opposing “Obamacare” but veered into his reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” He joked at the Gridiron Club dinner in March that the speech featured hours of “my favorite sound” — his own voice. His encore debt-limit filibuster threat only further embodied core aspirations of the tea party.

Baggage: Reputation as an upstart who seeks out controversy, which is also part of his appeal. Has always been polarizing in his own party, but GOP leadership was downright enraged with him after February’s debt-limit filibuster threat. Also has family baggage: His father has called for sending President Barack Obama “back to Kenya.” But Ted Cruz has birther baggage of his own: Questions about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother. Deflection: Cruz promised in the summer of 2013 to renounce his Canadian citizenship — but still hasn’t done so.

Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz’s 2013 tour of Texas and different states, opposing the health care law. His chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 book about federal overreach.

Social media: Active on Facebook and Twitter. Upset animal advocates recently by using both to post a picture of himself and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, kneeling next to a tiger-skin rug. Profile photos once had Cruz in hunting gear, but he’s now seen wearing his usual suit and tie on both his campaign and Senate accounts.