U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have laid low since dropping out of the Republican presidential race, but recent dispatches from Washington show both men charting new — or at least slightly different — political paths for the years ahead.
The most intriguing nuggets came last night, when The Hill newspaper reported that Cruz recently attended a private Virginia dinner with more than 20 prominent conservatives to plot his political comeback:
The undertone of the dinner was about how to position Cruz for a future tilt at the presidency and to spearhead the conservative movement from his seat in the Senate, those in attendance said.
Among those in attendance, according to the paper, were conservative leaders with access to hundreds of millions of dollars and large grassroots followings: Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, Club for Growth President David McIntosh and National Rifle Association board member and former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell.
Many of the leaders at the dinner want Cruz to run for president again, and they are viewing Cruz’s unsuccessful 2016 run as similar to Reagan’s failed attempt in 1976 to unseat the incumbent Republican president, Gerald Ford.
Private conversations with sources at the dinner kept turning up the same analogy: Reagan came back to win the presidency in 1980. And Cruz, they think, can do the same in 2020.
The news came as Rubio also reconsidered his political future.
The Florida Republican had long said he would retire from the Senate when his term ends in December, but he’s also been urged to run again by his political allies. After this weekend’s massacre in Orlando, though, Rubio indicated he was considering throwing his hat back into the ring.
“I’ve been deeply impacted by it, and I think when it visits your home state, and it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country,” Mr. Rubio told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday.
The latest, per The Wall Street Journal, is that Rubio will likely not announce anything for at least a few more days.
Both men so far have refused to endorse presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.