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Senator Ted Cruz thinks that uniting conservative Christians and fiscal hawks behind the banner of liberty is his path to the White House. On Monday, the Texas Republican chose the campus of Liberty University, founded by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell, to make his first speech as a candidate for president in 2016.
After breaking the news on his Twitter account Monday morning, Cruz said Americans should return to the country’s founding ideals to prevent Washington from taking away their freedom.
Reporters Katie Zezima and David Farenthold of The Washington Post described Cruz’s announcement this way:
On Monday, Cruz said it again, even more officially, in person, at the convocation ceremony at Liberty University, a required event for students enrolled there.
"We stand together for liberty!" Cruz said. "This is our fight. The answer will not come from Washington….[It will come ] when the American people stand together, and say, ‘We will get back to the principles that made this country great.’"
Cruz began his speech with a discourse about his parents, describing his mother’s childhood in Delaware and his father’s escape from Cuba. He drew from their stories lessons about the power of Christianity — which Cruz said he convinced his father to return after abandoning his family — and about American freedom. His father’s experience in Cuba, Cruz said, had taught him "how fragile liberty is."
Cruz introduced two joint resolutions of disapproval for Congress to strike down two controversial bills that Washington, D.C.’s mayor signed this year. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and other top Catholic prelates endorsed the resolution. Cruz said his ancestors were Catholic, but his parents converted and raised him as a Southern Baptist.
The 44-year-old senator has fought the political establishment in both Texas and Capitol Hill. In his 2012 Senate race, he defeated Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. In 2013, he lobbied to overturn the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. He orchestrated congressional Republicans’ 16-day shutdown of the federal government that fall.
Cruz’s relationship with the financial establishment has been friendlier. His wife was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, whose CEO came under fire for making questionable decisions that precipitated the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Club for Growth, an economically conservative interest group, gave Cruz a score of 96 percent in 2014. Although Cruz has criticized President Obama’s decision not to prosecute immigrants who came to the country illegally, he supports guest-worker programs, which most large businesses endorse.
Conservative supporters see Cruz as a lone truth teller and fiscal hawk in Washington. They think that the country’s accumulated debt of $18 trillion will impoverish future generations and want to cut federal spending to get the country’s budget books in line.
Cruz has done less well in the polls. Only slightly more conservatives told pollsters they could see supporting than opposing him, according to The Wall Street Journal.