Freshman Texas Senator and Tea Party leader Ted Cruz became the first presidential candidate to declare officially his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday, March 23, 2015. Cruz first made his announce on Twitter at midnight writing, "I'm running for President and I hope to earn your support!" plus a 30 second video. Later Monday morning, Cruz delivered a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia formally declaring his candidacy, where he focused on the theme of liberty, and an aim at targeting conservatives. Cruz's declaration formally kick starts the 2016 presidential campaign season.
In his 30-minute speech at Liberty University Monday morning, formally declared he is running for president in the 2016 campaign, stating, "God's blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn't done with America yet. I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America, and that is why today I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States."
Cruz emphasized themes of liberty, and used the word imagine as a key theme, repeating the word 38 times in his speech declaring his positions on the major issues and defining a future Cruz presidency. He asked voters to "imagine a president" who "abolishes the IRS, secures the borders, grows the economy," "repeals Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, halts President Barack Obama executive actions on immigration," and "protects religious liberty."
Playing to his conservative and evangelical core base, Cruz expressed, "I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison 'we demand our liberty.'" The line in his speech where Cruz received the most applause was for his position solidly in support of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel," after which the audience erupted chanting "USA, USA."
Cruz also emphasized his personal story about his father and that of his wife Heidi, who was there at the announcement along with their two daughters, Catherine and Caroline, 4 and 6. The speech at the Christian and conservative Liberty University founded by Jerry Falwell was the second time Cruz announced his candidacy, he did so for the first time at the stroke of midnight on Twitter, writing "I'm running for president and I hope to earn your support!"
Cruz, 44 is a third year senator was first voted in 2012 as Tea Party candidate. He has repeatedly clashed with more reserved Senate Republicans and leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY). Cruz has criticized the GOP's "mushy middle" which he calls "a failed electoral strategy." Cruz has been aggressively against Obamacare and the president's immigration executive actions, taking a "demand action, not talk" approach. Cruz is widely blamed by Republicans for 2013 government shutdown after he filibustered the Affordable Care Act. Cruz is also blamed for delaying funding for the Department of Homeland Security, tying it Obama's executive amnesty for nearly 5 million illegal immigrants.
Cruz is Cuban-American, he was born in Calgary, Canada but in 2014, he denounced his Canadian citizenship, and he grew up in Houston, Texas. He graduated Princeton University and "magna cum laude from Harvard Law School." Cruz clerked for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, he "worked at the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department" and has served as solicitor general in Texas from 2003 to 2008 under current Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
In 2000, he served as a domestic policy advisor for George W. Bush's successful 2000 presidential campaign. Cruz however, made a name for himself a Tea Party powerhouse with his Senate primary win over Lieutenant Governor Ted Dewhurst. Being the first GOP candidate to announce a presidential run, Cruz is also officially commencing the race to the 2016 presidential election.
Transcript: Ted Cruz's speech at Liberty University, Washington Post, March 23, 2015
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.