Opinion

Contributed by Larry Sterne, a young Republican from Iowa.

During a trip to Iowa this weekend, outspoken Texas Senator Ted Cruz was uncharacteristically tight-lipped in the face of questions about his White House aspirations. Despite repeated inquiries, the Senator never gave a definitive “yes” or “no” to reporters who asked if he’d be running for President in 2016.

The questions came in response to Cruz’s recent embarkation on a state-to-state summer road trip, which he told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl was part of “a national debate over which direction this country should go.”

Iowa is just one of several important battlegrounds that have made Cruz’s travel itinerary, including New Hampshire and South Carolina, both of which also vote early in primary elections.

But though the freshman legislator won’t yet confirm or deny the rumors surrounding his cross-country tour, he has been very vocal about what kind of candidate should run in 2016: a strong conservative. In his interview with Karl, the Senator commented: “The biggest reason Barack Obama got elected in 2008 was that Republicans lost our way. We weren’t standing for principles.”

Remarks like these may be shots across the bow for more moderate presidential frontrunners like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Like Cruz, Rubio is a freshman Senator of recent Cuban ancestry who was elected with a lot of help from the Tea Party. However, Rubio has achieved national notoriety for captaining the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill.

Cruz has been one of the bill’s most outspoken critics, going so far as to allege that it was “merely meant to tell gullible constituents that we’ve done something.”Cruz plans to visit Florida later in the summer, where he may attempt to pull Rubio’s Republican base out from under him with a more conservative message. “If you look at the last forty years,” Cruz said during his ABC interview, “a consistent pattern emerges: any time Republicans nominate a candidate for President who runs as a strong conservative, we win. And when we nominate a moderate who doesn’t run as a conservative, we lose.”

Even as he pushes for a staunchly conservative President, Senator Cruz seems to be bolstering his credentials as just such a candidate. During a closed-door address to over 70 Iowa pastors on Friday, Cruz painted himself as a champion of religious freedom, citing his success in Supreme Court cases regarding the Texas Ten Commandments monument and the famed Mojave Cross. He continued his speech by promising both to eliminate ObamaCare and abolish the IRS- a pledge which got him a standing ovation.

While Cruz has yet to announce formal plans for 2016, he otherwise pulled no punches in his visit to Iowa. Mitt Romney he is not; this rising GOP star is out to convince Americans that their next President needs to lean far to the Right, and that no one’s leaning further than he is.