Cruz: We don't need another Romney or McCain in 2016

Story highlights

  • CNBC asked Ted Cruz what he thought about rumors that Jeb Bush might run for president
  • It's not the first time Cruz has slammed perceived moderate Republican candidates
  • Cruz said Hillary Clinton would be president if the GOP doesn't switch course in 2016
Republicans are doomed in 2016 if they again nominate a candidate like Mitt Romney or John McCain, Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday.
Cruz, a tea party favorite who is considering a presidential bid, said his party needs to nominate a "strong conservative" to win back the White House in 2016. If not, Hillary Clinton will be president, he said in an interview on CNBC.
When asked if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is too far to the left to fit the conservative bill, the junior senator from Texas said he is a "fan of Jeb Bush's" but added that "we need to learn from history."
"We need to look to history and what works and what doesn't and the one thing is clear is if Republicans run another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole, or a John McCain, or a Mitt Romney — and let me be clear, all three of those are good, honorable men. They're decent men. They're patriots," Cruz said. "But if we run another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole, or a John McCain, or Mitt Romney, we will end up with the same result, which is millions of people will stay home on Election Day."
"And if we run another candidate like that, Hillary Clinton will be president," Cruz said.
It's not the first time Cruz has criticized Dole, McCain and Romney's candidacies.
Just this spring at the Conservative Political Action Conference Cruz pointed to the three former nominees as examples of "when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle, Democrats celebrate."
Cruz drew fire from Dole and McCain for those remarks with Dole saying Cruz needed to "check the record before passing judgment."
On Thursday Cruz stressed the urgency of straying from the "mold" of those three past nominees because "there is an urgency. The states have never been higher."
"I think eight more years down this road we risk doing irreparable damage to the greatest nation in the history of the world," Cruz said.
Romney and his family have said it's unlikely he'll run in 2016, but it's not completely out of the question and Romney has repeatedly turned down opportunities to shut down voices in the party calling on him to run a third time for president.