Ted Cruz, Ken Cuccinelli elbowing way into 2016 starting grid

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Politics,Virginia,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Campaigns

Add another name to the growing list of possible GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the party's gubernatorial candidate running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Suggestions that the conservative will run were raised Thursday by the team that puts out the University of Virginia Center for Politics' Crystal Ball, which said: "If Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wins the state's governorship this November, it is an easy prediction that he will consider a presidential run, with strong backing from his intense supporters."

He would join Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the newest member of the 2016 list led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Cruz is fast winning support for a potential bid. Two separate and influential conservative leaders told Secrets on Thursday that they would back his candidacy.

While some argue that Cruz and potentially Cuccinelli are too new to the national political scene to take a run at the presidency, the Crystal Ball team said that President Obama's election after just four years in the Senate permanently broke the "experience-required" rule.

"Barack Obama's promotion to the presidency after less than four years in the U.S. Senate has seemingly lifted all prohibitions on inexperienced politicians launching a White House bid," they said.

Still, one conservative leader helping Cuccinelli's campaign said a good four-year term as governor will be required before running for president. "If Cuccinelli has an excellent four-year run and cuts taxes, cuts spending, etc., he will be credentialed to go to the next level," said the source.