Ted Cruz, heavy on faith, launches White House bid
Ultra-conservative Republican US Senator Ted Cruz launched his White House quest on Monday, invoking his abiding faith in God as he effectively kick-started the 2016 presidential race.
Lynchburg: Ultra-conservative Republican US Senator Ted Cruz launched his White House quest on Monday, invoking his abiding faith in God as he effectively kick-started the 2016 presidential race.
The 44-year-old Tea Party favorite from Texas chose Liberty University, the sprawling Christian evangelical bastion founded by Reverend Jerry Falwell, as the site of the official unveiling of his White House ambitions.
Cruz is the first candidate to formally join what will be a crowded Republican field vying to be their party`s champion in the marathon slog to succeed President Barack Obama.
"It is a time for truth, it is a time for liberty. It is a time to reclaim the constitution," Cruz told several thousand students at the Virginia campus.
"I believe God isn`t done with America," Cruz said.
"I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America. And that`s why today I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States."Cruz has been a political rock star since he scored a major upset and won a US Senate seat in 2012.
Seen as a provocateur by rivals -- and an intense conservative ideologue even by his supporters -- Cruz is a fierce critic of Obama`s administration.
Hitting several conservative buttons, Cruz pilloried Obama`s health care law, vowed to abolish the IRS federal tax agency, and slammed the Democratic president`s bid to shield millions of immigrants from deportation, calling it an "unconstitutional executive amnesty."
His 30-minute speech, delivered in the round and without teleprompters, brought occasional cheers of "Cruuuuuuuz" from the audience after applause lines.
But it was also an opportunity for him to bond with younger voters, many of whom are more familiar with his likely 2016 Republican rivals -- Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two presidents, and Senator Rand Paul.
"I`m coming here to learn more about him," said Connor Sheehey, an 18-year-old Liberty freshman from North Carolina.
Cruz has raised hackles in his own party in recent years when he helped push the government into shutdown over budget fights.
And he will face intense competition for funds and support from other likely conservative candidates, including Paul, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Marco Rubio.
Cruz made extensive reference to his parents, including his father, Cuban-born minister Rafael Cruz.
Asked how his son will distinguish himself from other conservatives, the elder Cruz told AFP that "time will tell. He stands for truth and the Constitution."
Cruz`s father was soaking up the enormity of his family`s moment, saying: "Only in America can this happen."
Cruz posted a YouTube video announcement stressing his immigrant roots and his faith in God -- something he repeatedly turned to at Liberty where he called for stronger political activism from evangelicals.
"Today, roughly half of born-again Christians aren`t voting," he said. "Imagine instead, millions of people across America coming out to the polls and voting our values."
His advisors told US media he will aim to raise between $40-50 million for his campaign, and will rely on support from his conservative and libertarian Tea Party base.
Democrats swiftly hammered Cruz on his announcement, with the party`s campaign rapid response team saying "he rattled off a litany of the GOP`s most extreme positions."Cruz`s uncompromising positions have often earned him condemnation from leading figures within the Republican establishment.
John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who lost to Obama, once derided Cruz and two other Tea Party lawmakers as "wacko birds on the right."
The criticism has not fazed him.
"I don`t work for the party bosses in Washington. I work for the people of Texas. And I fight for them," Cruz said in a 2013 interview.
A Texas-raised, Harvard-educated lawyer, Cruz was born in Canada but moved to the United States after his absent father found God and reunited the family.
Although he was entitled to US citizenship at birth, his foreign birthplace could trouble some voters.
In previous contests, McCain faced questions about having been born in Panama, and Hawaii-born Obama was falsely accused of concealing a Kenyan birthplace.
Cruz joined George W. Bush`s legal team to argue the 2000 Florida presidential recount. In 2003 he was appointed solicitor general of Texas and argued cases before the US Supreme Court.