Is Sen. Ted Cruz moving closer to 2016 bid?

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The night before a key speech before members of the American Conservative Union's CPAC gathering in National Harbor, Maryland, Texas Senator Ted Cruz talked with Eyewitness News Anchor Tom Abrahams about his address, his presidential ambitions and the debate over funding the federal Department of Homeland Security.

In his Capitol Hill office, a portrait of former President Ronald Reagan over his shoulder as he spoke, Cruz said he expected Republicans to join Democrats in funding DHS without further fighting President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration.

"Leadership has given in to the Democrats," he said. "I think that was a mistake. What we ought to do is straight forward. We should honorthe commitments we made to the men and women who elected us. We should fund the Department of Homeland Security. We need to protect this nation. But at the same time we should stand together and defund President Obama's illegal and unconstituional amnesty."

A federal court order, in a case filed by then Texas Attorney General (now Governor) Greg Abbott,, has delayed the applications for undocumented immigrants hoping to stay in the country legally under expanded provisions for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and also give parents of citizens the opportunity to seek employment wavers for up to three years.

Democrats have filibustered to prevent the Republican majority from including an immigration provision in the funding bill which would stop the exectuive action.

Immigration, as political an issue as it has become, could play an important role in the next election cycle as Hispanics play an ever-increasing role at the ballot box. Cruz said he believes it is not the only issues for Hispanics when they cast their votes.

Cruz tests the waters again Thursday with an afternoon speech in front of a conservative crowd in a ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort across the Potomac River from Capitol Hill.

He said he's grateful to have the opportunity to speak to them and will talk about "reigniting the miracle of America". "This next election, the 2016 election, I believe it is now or never," he said. "It is a decision, right now, do we continue on the path that just isn't working? Or do we get back to the common sense principles this country was built on."

He sounds every bit the candidate as he talks about 2016, as will other Republican hopeful when they each get their twenty minutes on stage. From Dr. Ben Carson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, to Wisconsin Govenor Scott Walker, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Former GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and businessman Donald Trump, each will try to make a pitch for themselves as the party's standard bearer moving forward.

Cruz said he is moving much closer to a decision about his own run for the White House, "Well," he explained, "I'm looking very seriously at the 2016 election. And I tell you I've been very encouraged. number one the grass roots support we're seeing is incredible Texans all over our great state have encouraged me to run. We're seeing energy and enthusiasm and excitement, particularly in the early primary states."

He also says he's getting encouragement from potential financial backers and influential people within the party.

He won't put a date on a decision, but says he knows the field of candidates will form by summer. He says the key for Republicans is finding a candidate to energizes and mobilizes voters.

It's a process that begins in earnest this week in Maryland
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