Matt Mackowiak

The decision of whether to run for president of the United States is unlike any that a human being faces.

And yet Rafael Ted Cruz, the junior U.S. senator from Texas, faces it. Not now. Not even soon. Next year probably. Certainly by Thanksgiving 2014.

hard will it be? It is 20 hours a day for two years. Calls with your spouse are scheduled. You will see every fleabag motel in the early states. You'll freeze, eat terrible food, get sick, miss family events and rarely enjoy any private time.

And then, if you are the one Republican out of 10 who runs the table, lucky enough to become the nominee, you probably will face a 40 percent chance of beating Hillary Clinton (if she runs).

Should you win, you can look forward to eight years that turns you prematurely gray. You can never go grocery shopping alone again. You may have an assassination attempt. Everything you've ever done will be viewed in the worst possible light. Your life will be turned upside down.

Why, yes, I think I'll sign up for that.

Anyone who thinks they should be president has a rare amount of personal confidence. Without that assuredness, success in politics would never have been possible in the first place.

Ted Cruz is certainly confident. And he has reason to be.

He is universally recognized, even by his harshest critics, as brilliant. Take the cream of the crop, put them at Princeton. Then take the cream of that crop, and put them at Harvard Law School. Then take the cream of that crop, and let them clerk for the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He exists in a frighteningly small intellectual universe.

Is that enough to win?

The odds that he wins the presidency in 2016 cannot be much worse than the odds facing him when he ran for the U.S. Senate. He started off below the margin of error in the polls, with no fundraising and little support. He relentlessly worked it - doggedly traveling the state, winning over workhorse activists and volunteers with his passion, his intellect and his ability to convince them that he would fight.

I see nothing that would prevent him from doing that writ large.

In politics, the races you don't run are perhaps more important than the races you do. Had Hillary Clinton run against President Bush in 2004, she likely would have lost. But she didn't run, and with her own patience and persistence she may be the first female President in 2017.

Ted Cruz is on a rocket ride right now. We don't know where this is headed.

But we do know a few things:

- Longevity in the U.S. Senate is more likely to hurt you politically than to help you. Senators accumulate hard-to-explain votes, while catching Potomac Fever. Recent examples are John Kerry and John McCain. Short-timers such as Barack Obama knew this.

- The grass roots is clamoring for an authentic, smart, articulate, conservative fighter. Good men like Mitt Romney, Bob Dole and John McCain were unable to motivate the Republican base, which is job No. 1. Cruz's ability to motivate the base is unquestioned.

- The political cost for Cruz running in 2016 is minimal. He is a newly elected U.S. Senator, not facing re-election until 2018. Even if he fails, he will grow his support and fundraising while becoming a more well-known national figure. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney all needed to run twice to win the GOP nomination.

I do not subscribe to the view that Ted Cruz is so Machiavellian that he has, eight months into his term in the U.S. Senate, already decided to run for president. I believe that he senses this may be his moment, but it is too early. He will continue to travel the country, and Texas, to sell conservatism to the masses. He will continue to do the work. He will pick his fights. He will not shrink from tough battles.

Obama determined that 2008 was his moment. Had he not run then, he may never have become president.

Increasingly, it appears to me that 2016 is Ted Cruz's moment. Does he know it?


Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on ABCNews.com. He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News, FoxNews.com, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site www.potomacflacks.com, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.