Senator Ted Cruz of Texas became the first official candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election Monday with a rousing announcement speech at the country’s largest Christian university, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Cruz brought a large crowd of conservative students to their feet with a promise to “reignite the promise of America” as he sought to get the jump on what is expected to be a large field of Republican White House contenders for 2012. “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,” he stated.
He vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if he becomes president and said he would abolish the government’s tax-collecting agency, the Internal Revenue Service.
Ted Cruz Bio Box
Republican U.S. senator from Texas, elected in 2012.
Attended Harvard Law School.
Favorite of conservative Tea Party movement.
In 2013, held the floor in Senate for 21 hours, 19 minutes to urge Congress to cut off funds for President Barack Obama's health care law.
If elected, he would be first Hispanic U.S. president.
Some of his stated goals:
- Repeal President Obama's health care law
- Abolish the Internal Revenue Service
- Eliminate the Department of Education
Foreign Policy Hawk
On foreign policy, he told the crowd that as president he would, “stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel” and would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He also vowed to wage an aggressive military campaign against the Islamic State. “Imagine a president who says we will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism and we will call it by its name.”
Cruz was one of 47 Senate Republicans who signed an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning that any nuclear deal reached with the Obama administration could be undone by a future president. Three other Republican senators who signed the letter are also expected to join the presidential race: Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Florida’s Marco Rubio and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.
Tea Party Hero
Elected to the Senate in 2012, Cruz quickly established himself as a favorite of Tea Party conservatives. He led a 21-hour filibuster on the Senate floor in 2013 to try and defund the health care law. He was also a leader of the 16-day partial government shutdown over Obamacare a few weeks later that hurt the Republican Party’s national image.
He chose Liberty University for his launch as part of an effort to win over social and religious conservatives within the Republican Party, a key voting bloc in early presidential contest states like Iowa. Liberty was founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, a hero to the social conservative movement in the U.S.
The son of an American mother and a Cuban father, Cruz was born in Canada but legal experts say that since his mother was an American citizen he should meet the basic constitutional requirements to run for president.
He is the first of many Republican contenders to officially announce for 2016. More are expected in the coming weeks including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and fellow senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.
Cruz hopes to stand out in a crowded Republican field, said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato. “You realize that it is an unformed field. It is obvious from every survey that has been done that the Republican faithful are completely undecided. There is no frontrunner. The weakness of Jeb Bush in the polls, I think, is notable. He is yet to break 20 (percent) in any of the major national polls and he’s well behind in some of the key state polls.”
With the launch of his campaign, the 2016 election cycle officially gets underway. And while Republicans expect a large field of candidates complete with multiple debates, many are excited at the prospect of trying to take back the White House after eight years of Barack Obama in 2016. Among them is Republican political strategist Phillip Stutts. “We’ve never had a group of presidential candidates like the group that is going to be running in 2016. Twelve, 14 candidates that are substantive, that have records, that have done things.”
Democrats, meanwhile, look forward to what they expect will be a far less crowded field of primary contenders hoping to succeed President Obama in the White House. At the head of that list is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who could announce her plans as soon as next month.