Ted Cruz made it official – but what about everyone else?

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  • Jay Riestenberg

In a tweet late Sunday and a speech today, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas joined Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, conservative star Ben Carson, and former Sen. Jim Webb as an official presidential candidate, while most prospective candidates are holding back and giving cagey, carefully-lawyered answers when asked about their plans.

The reason is money.  

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, traveling the country to raise money for his Right to Rise super PAC, has consciously avoided talking about running for President. Just last week, Bush’s lawyer threatened legal action against a Florida man who was paying for a radio advertisement that referred to Bush as a candidate.  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, beating the bushes on behalf of a group called Our American Revival, joked about his non-candidate status recently when asked about an agenda for his presidency. “Should I choose to be a candidate…My lawyers love it when I say that,” he said.

Historically, major presidential hopefuls have at least announced their exploratory committees by this point in the election cycle. In the 2008 election, all the major candidates on both sides of the aisle –  Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Mitt Romney – had all declared their plans by the end of March 2007.

Things are different this time because by not officially declaring their candidacy, or even admitting they are exploring a run for President, i.e., “testing the waters,” Bush, Walker, and others can  raise unlimited amounts of money for “outside” groups that will support them later. By not officially declaring their candidacy, 2016 hopefuls are attempting to bypass normal campaign contribution limits and coordination laws.

Despite the fact that Walker refuses to say that he is running, or even that he is “testing the waters” and exploring a run, his obscure political committee has opened offices and hired staff in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states in the 2016 Republican primary. 

Press reports indicate that Hillary Clinton is expected to officially announce her presidential ambitions in April, four months later than her January 2007 announcement for her 2008 run.  When other candidates on either side of aisle will finally come clean and say “I’m running” remains unknown.

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