AUSTIN, Texas -- A look at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: "My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate." -- May 2013, Dallas. Standard disclaimer when asked about running.
Iowa: Yes, three times in three months, spoke to 600 at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October 2013. First visit in July, to meet privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project. Also spoke to Conservative Christians in August.
New Hampshire: Yes, state GOP committee fundraiser in August 2013.
South Carolina: Yes, "Pastors and Pews" event in November 2013, cultivating relationship with religious conservatives. Also visited in May, speaking to annual state GOP dinner.
Foreign travel: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012 even before being sworn in as senator. Again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.
Meet the money: Yes, Cruz visited major donors in New York City in November 2013 and met with Donald Trump. He is also building donor lists from the more than 1.5 million people who signed the online petition "Don'tFundObamaCare." GOP strategist Mary Matalin gave Cruz $1,000 in August after he visited her home in New Orleans.
Networking: Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate; landed coveted slot as keynote speaker at Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2013. He's engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives and pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, while also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders, as did Paul. Campaigned for Virginia Tea Party-backed gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli in Richmond in October.
Hog the TV: Yes, six Sunday news show invitations since August 2013 alone. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in November. Appears on Fox News almost every week, sometimes multiple times; frequent guest on CNN.
Do something: Leading force in the dispute that partly shut the government. As Texas' longest-serving solicitor general (2003-2008), argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times, including opposing the release of a Texan sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing a calculator from Wal-Mart, even though the state's maximum sentence was two years. Texas claimed victory when the Supreme Court sent the case to a lower court, although that court freed the man.
Take a stand: He stood, all right, for the better part of 21 hours in an all-night speech taking on Obama's health care law and veering into a reading of "Green Eggs and Ham." Embodies core aspirations of the Tea Party.
Baggage: Reputation as a hotheaded upstart, which is also part of his appeal. Polarizing within his party. Also comes with birther baggage: Questions have been raised in some quarters about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother.
Deflection: Cruz has promised to renounce his Canadian citizenship.
Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Has been one of the largest beneficiaries of former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, and has gotten millions of dollars and grass-roots logical support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Ending Spending PAC. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz's summer trip around Texas and the country urging Americans to push Congress to cut off money for Obama's health care law. Cruz's chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 2010 book about federal overreach.
Social media: Active on Facebook and Twitter, poses with a hunting rifle on his campaign accounts and in the usual suit and tie with flag backdrop on his Senate accounts. Much content is pumped out by staff.