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Ted Cruz ends his speech -- the first of his 2016 presidential bid

As a filibuster against Obamacare, it was a flop. But as the opening salvo in a presidential campaign, Sen. Ted Cruz’s 21-hour (more or less) talkathon Tuesday and Wednesday worked just fine.

And that, after all, was the point of Cruz’s tilting at windmills.

After vowing to speak against Obamacare until he couldn’t stand, Cruz sat on Wednesday morning. Then, the Senate voted 100-0 (yep, that means our guy Cruz too) to move ahead on a spending plan to keep the government running.

All politics may be local, but for Texas’ Republican senator and tea party darling, right now all politics are theater. His body may have been in the Senate chamber Tuesday and Wednesday, but his heart and mind were in 2016 and the next presidential race.

Clearly, the Senate is too small for Cruz. He wants to be president. The Times’ Jonah Goldberg said as much in his Op-Ed on Tuesday. And he’s certainly got the tea party vote.

Now, as Doyle McManus acknowledged in his column Wednesday about a possible Democratic presidential bid by Hillary Rodham Clinton, it’s waaaaayyyy too soon to be talking 2016. But that didn’t stop Doyle; why should it stop the rest of us?

What would a 2016 GOP presidential primary field look like? There’s Cruz, of course, and fellow Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida. Then there are the governors: Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. One representative: Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Want a dark horse? How about a Bush, in this case, Jeb, the last of the dynasty.

Put in that company, Cruz looks to be the solid conservative pick. Paul’s too nutty (remember his dad?), Rubio’s too liberal (remember immigration reform?), Jindal’s too Indian (remember the flap over the new Miss America?), Walker’s too small (it’s only Wisconsin, after all), Ryan’s too wonky (remember Medicare vouchers?) and Bush is, well, too late (remember George W.?).

So that leaves us with Cruz and, yep, Chris Christie. And that spells trouble for Cruz and the “tea” in the GOP. Why? Because Christie is the only Republican who could actually win in 2016.

And how do I know? I took a poll. In this case, I asked my wife. She said Christie’s the only Republican she might vote for.

Which is good enough for me. If President Obama quit smoking because he’s afraid of his wife, I base most of what I know or think about politics on what my wife says or thinks. As in most things, she’s usually right.

Now I know what you’re going to say: Conservative Republicans hate Christie; he can’t win the nomination.

But there’s one thing that Republicans -- conservative or just-plain-crazy conservative -- love more than Ted Cruz, and that's winning. And if they think Christie can win, they’ll show Cruz the door. (After all, Christie could always throw them a bone and put him on the ticket as the veep.)

So Cruz can go on building his conservative cred. But when the dust settles and Republicans pick their next presidential nominee, my money is on the large man in charge in New Jersey.


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