LYNCHBURG, Va. — Ted Cruz announced his run for president a few moments after midnight on Monday, hours before a planned speech in this city of 80,000 at a university founded by the hyper-controversial televangelist Jerry Falwell.
The first-term Texas senator made his initial — and widely expected — announcement on Twitter, accompanied by a 30-second video.
I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support! pic.twitter.com/0UTqaIoytP
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015
“It’s a time for truth. A time to rise to the challenge, just as Americans have always done,” Cruz says in the video. “It’s going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again. And I’m ready to stand with you to lead the fight.”
His official announcement will be made at the Liberty University Convocation, before the largest evangelical university in the world, which symbolizes an influential core of the Republican Party base that is critical to his ambitions as well as those of each of his 2016 rivals.
Cruz’s reputation on Capitol Hill as the right’s agitator-in-chief is well-deserved. He is frequently a thorn in the side of Republican leaders, seldom missing an opportunity to carve out a hardline position on the issue du jour and paint it as the principled conservative position, regardless of political reality. Sometimes he drags the rest of the party with him, as occurred during the 2013 government shutdown over whether or not to pull funds for Obamacare. (The gambit failed; Congress ended up fully funding the health care reform law.)
Now he’s poised to take those talents to the presidential stage.
With his fiery rhetoric and unyielding approach to legislating, Cruz, a Harvard-educated former lawyer and solicitor general of Texas, has a knack for making solidly conservative Republicans look moderate by comparison.
That’s the biggest danger facing his rivals, most notably Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two leading candidates in the crowded Republican field who poll ahead of Cruz. Both can boast conservative records as governor or Florida and Wisconsin, respectively, but both could feel compelled to show off their conservative bona fides while sharing the stage with him, perhaps tack rightward on issues to avoid defections among passionate conservative voters.