Washington CNN  — 

Sen. Ted Cruz, a runner-up in the 2016 Republican primary, said he hopes to launch another White House bid in the future, calling his previous campaign “the most fun I’ve ever had.”

“Look, I hope to run again,” the Texas Republican told The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday. “We came very, very close in 2016. And it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”

“The great thing is, every issue I was fighting for in the presidential campaign is front and center in the Senate,” he told the outlet.

Cruz’s comments about revisiting a White House bid come after his narrow reelection to the Senate in 2018 and amid an evolving Republican Party that increasingly reflects President Donald Trump’s own image as he gears up for reelection in 2020.

In 2016, Cruz ended his presidential campaign – which cleared a path for Trump to clinch the GOP nomination – after his campaign message rooted in traditional conservative values stumbled amid increasingly unsuccessful attempts to stave off Trump’s growing popularity. Among the strategies in his final week were an alliance with Ohio Gov. John Kasich that quickly crumbled and naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate even as he was far from winning the nomination.

Cruz was first elected to the US Senate from Texas in 2012 by riding a wave of anti-establishment sentiment from an evolving tea party movement. He said Thursday that the state will be key to Trump’s re-election.

“Texas is a battleground,” he told the Monitor on Thursday. “Texas is going to be hotly contested in 2020. I believe the President will win Texas. I think it will be closer than last time.”

Cruz’s comments to The Monitor came after a larger discussion with reporters at a breakfast event hosted by the outlet that was largely rooted in the country’s renewed debate on gun violence.

Cruz, a longtime opponent of stricter gun laws, has garnered attention in this area in recent days following a meeting to discuss gun violence with progressive activist and actress Alyssa Milano, and Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was one of 17 people killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

He tweeted after the meeting that he was “grateful for the opportunity to engage in positive, civil discussion on substantive issues.”

“Thank you for coming & having a positive, civil & substantive conversation,” he later added. “I hope it helps bridge some of the angry divides in our Nation and that Congress can come together to stop violent gun crime while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

CNN’s Maeve Reston and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.