TODAY   |  October 20, 2013

Clinton, Cruz deliver dueling speeches

The 2016 race for the White House is still far off, but two potential 2016 contenders, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, took center stage Saturday to deliver opposing messages. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> enthusiastic crowd for hillary clinton on saturday. the former secretary of state back, making her first campaign appearance. meantime, in texas, plenty of love for senator ted cruz in his home state. are they both angling to be the next president of the united states ? christen welker is at the white house with the healthy speculation. good morning.

>> reporter: that's a good way to put it, healthy speculation. the next race for the white house is far off, and neither hillary clinton nor ted cruz has given any real indication they're planning to run in 2016 . still, the optics were hard to ignore on saturday. could this be a preview of things to come in 2016 ? hillary clinton and senator ted cruz pressing the flesh and firing up the crowds.

>> president obama is targeting first-time voters. well, of course, he is. the second-time voters have graduated, and they can't find a job.

>> hatred. anger. anxiety, insecurity. that's not who we are as a people.

>> reporter: on saturday, hillary clinton looked refreshed and well rested, appearing at her first public campaign event since leaving her position. she endorsed longtime friend terry mcauliffe for virginia's next governor, and sounded like a candidate herself.

>> recently in washington, unfortunately, we have seen examples of the wrong kind of leadership. when politicians choose scorched earth over common ground.

>> reporter: the comment was an unmistakable shot at the tea party , which most americans blame for the government shutdown. tea party crusader ted cruz was unapologetic while speaking at two events in his home state of texas , doubling down on his fight against obama care and blaming senate republicans for giving in on that battle too easily.

>> you don't win a fight when your own team is firing canons at the people who are standing up and leading, which were the house republicans.

>> reporter: cruz often mentioned as a potential for 2016 has deflected questions about his political ambitions, but analysts say with public opinion of the tea party at new lows, the next big test for the party as a whole will be 2014 .

>> if they have more house seats that are won, attributable to them, that will give them a louder voice in national politics.

>> reporter: now, as for 2016 , polls show that clinton has a strong lead over her potential challengers -- democrat and republican. expect to see more of her at political events. as for ted cruz , he plans to visit the early voting state of iowa in a few days. important to point out, these are just two of several names that are being discussed for the next presidential contest. erica?

>> christen at the white house ,