He hasn't said it himself, but a National Review story contends that U.S. Ted Cruz has his sights set on running for president in 2016.

Citing unnamed sources, the story said "friends and confidants" of the Texas lawmaker say that the presidency is on his mind.

"If you don't think this is real, then you're not paying attention," the magazine quoted a Republican insider as saying. "Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that's all he may need."

Another, unnamed source, described as a Cruz donor, said: "There's not a lot of hesitation there. He's fearless."

Cruz is said to be trying to gauge his chances of mounting a formidable presidential bid, but doing it in a low-key way.

"Ted won't be opening an Iowa office anytime soon, but he's listening," the magazine quotes a longtime Cruz associate as saying.  "This is all in the early stages; nothing is official. It's just building on its own."

Cruz has settled into his freshman term as senator with a lot of fanfare. The Cuban-American Tea Party lawmaker is diligent and provocative about his positions on everything from the national budget to gun control and immigration, among other things.

Some establishment Republicans in Congress – among them Sen. John McCain, of Arizona – have criticized him publicly for his firebrand ways, but Cruz has hardly shrunk from the spotlight after such rebukes, and instead has come back swinging.

As many conservative Republicans are watching with concern as some of their star lawmakers soften their stance on immigration, for instance, now supporting a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, Cruz's unwavering hard line has made him more of a star among them.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, another Tea Party favorite and fellow Cuban-American, has taken the lead in a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would tighten enforcement as well as provide undocumented immigrants with an opportunity to obtain temporary legal status, and eventually a permanent one. 

Rubio is considered a strong candidate for the 2016 presidential election. Others mentioned are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, and former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considered a likely candidate.

"You bet, he's on my radar," says Chad Connelly, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, told the National Review. "Conservatives think he's a rock star. I hear about him from everybody."

Cruz is an attorney of Cuban descent who graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

"We all see a path, and he does, too," the magazine quoted a former Cruz colleague as saying. "This isn't someone who needs to be told the obvious. He didn't run for the Senate to get cozy, so no one who knows him is surprised that he's at least looking at it."

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