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Ted Cruz to headline Iowa GOP event in July

Firebrand conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will headline the Iowa GOP's summer picnic, the state party announced Friday.

A first-term senator who's distinguished himself as one of the most dogged critics of not just President Barack Obama but also fellow Republicans, Cruz will keynote the Des Moines-area picnic on July 19.

Cruz hasn't openly flirted with running for president, though a previous National Review article about his White House ambitions, paired with a visit to the state which traditionally hosts the first nominating contest in a presidential election certainly won't quiet speculation.

The Dallas Morning News reported earlier on Friday that Cruz would also speak to an influential group of pastors while in Iowa, as would Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another Republican who's flirted with running for president.