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Ted Cruz jump-starts GOP’s battle for White House – USA TODAY

Ted Cruz jump-starts GOP’s battle for White House

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Ted Cruz jump-starts GOP’s battle for White House

Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off a new phase in the 2016 presidential race on Monday, giving a speech at Liberty University announcing his bid for the Republican nomination.

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USA TODAY’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page explains four reasons why Ted Cruz’s presidential run matters. Paulo Fugen

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LYNCHBURG, Va. — Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off a new phase in the 2016 presidential race Monday when he declared himself a candidate for the GOP nomination, setting the stage for a frenetic battle among Republicans eager to take back the White House.

Saying during a speech at Liberty University Monday that he believed “millions of courageous conservatives” were ready to rise up and vowing to restore the “promise of America,” Cruz announced: “And that is why, today, I am announcing that I’m running for president of the United States.”

Cruz’s remarks indicated he was intent on positioning himself as a champion of religious conservatives. He began his speech recounting the story of his parents, noting that his father, Rafael, had fled Cuba and initially left Cruz and his mother in Canada before converting to Christianity while in Texas.

“There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you in my family there’s not a second of doubt,” he said.

An emotional Rafael Cruz, now a well-known Texas pastor, said after his son’s speech,”I think he did outstanding.”

Cruz touched on a number of issues that figure to appeal to a conservative primary audience, from Israel to same-sex marriage, to, of course, Obamacare. Cruz’s speech came on the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law.

“Imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.”

It was a refrain Cruz used throughout the speech, exhorting the audience to “imagine” everything a country where the borders were secure, the “sanctity of human life” was defended and “every word of Common Core” was repealed.

The Texas senator also wove the importance of faith throughout his remarks.

“God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation,” he said. “And I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”

The Vines Center, where Cruz delivered his remarks, was practically full for the announcement speech.

Cruz made his bid official just after midnight, tweeting, “I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support!”

His decision to run had been reported throughout the day on Sunday by news organizations. In a campaign video included with his tweet, the newly minted GOP presidential candidate said, “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.”

While the Texan considers himself a full-spectrum conservative who appeals to all in the GOP, he is sending a clear signal with his choice of venue that he intends to compete for the votes of religious conservatives.

Steve Peery, a retiree from Lexington, Ky., and his daughter, Stephanie, described themselves as ardent supporters of Cruz as they waved small flags while awaiting his speech at Liberty.

“He’s a 360-degree turnaround from the current politics we’ve got now,” Peery said. “If he’s trying to get young people, then I’m going to be young again and jump right in. He’s a fresh stream of water.”

Stephanie Peery said she’s behind Cruz because he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“He’s consistent,” she said of Cruz. “He doesn’t waver in his beliefs.”

A freshman senator from Texas, Cruz is one of several Tea Party favorites hoping to be the party standard-bearer who can erase the sting of defeats by Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Cruz will have his work cut out for him in a crowded field that is shaping up to include former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as well as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky — who, like Cruz, were swept into office by Tea Party insurgents.

“From here it’s only up. We have a lot of great candidates that are about to come in and join the field,” said Taylor Budowich, executive director of the Tea Party Express, the largest Tea Party political action committee. “Tea Partiers and conservatives of every stripe are pretty excited about what’s to come in the presidential race.”

About a year ago, Cruz used a speech at the world’s largest Christian university to say religious liberty is “under assault” by the Obama administration. He cited as a prime example the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring insurance coverage for contraceptives. The Supreme Court last June said some for-profit companies don’t have to pay if they object on religious grounds.

Analysts say Cruz’s policy positions will serve him well in the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 1, where evangelical and social conservatives helped propel former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum to victory in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

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Cruz is “probably the ideal candidate for a lot of conservative types who are activists and the Republicans that caucus,” said Craig Robinson, founder of the Iowa Republican website and a former political director of the Iowa GOP. “He’s the natural fit — a strong social conservative who has the fighter mentality. He’s going to be right on all their issues.”

Not all who came to Lynchburg Monday had settled on the Texas senator as their preferred candidate.

Stephen Witham, a government professor at Liberty, attended the speech because he’s undecided about a 2016 candidate and is not sure if Cruz can go the distance.

“The general rule is I like the most conservative candidate who has a good chance to win,” Witham said. “I don’t want to pick someone who has no chance.”

Early public opinion polls on the 2016 GOP race have either Walker or Bush in the lead, with Cruz rating in the single digits. By announcing first, the Texas senator will dominate headlines and benefit from news coverage until the rest of the field takes shape.

Budowich, the Tea Party leader, said Cruz and other GOP candidates need to show they can appeal to a broad range of voters if they want to win in 2016. He believes the senator’s call for “opportunity conservatism” — in which the GOP offers policies that help everyone and not just the wealthy will help Cruz.

“You have to articulate your vision for America,” he said. “We can’t just talk to ourselves. We can’t win a national election if we don’t expand the voter base.”

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Ted Cruz announces presidential run in 2016 | Why It Matters
Mar 23, 2015

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Ted Cruz jump-starts GOP’s battle for White House

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Ted Cruz jump-starts GOP’s battle for White House

Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off a new phase in the 2016 presidential race on Monday, giving a speech at Liberty University announcing his bid for the Republican nomination.

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USA TODAY’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page explains four reasons why Ted Cruz’s presidential run matters. Paulo Fugen

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LYNCHBURG, Va. — Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off a new phase in the 2016 presidential race Monday when he declared himself a candidate for the GOP nomination, setting the stage for a frenetic battle among Republicans eager to take back the White House.

Saying during a speech at Liberty University Monday that he believed “millions of courageous conservatives” were ready to rise up and vowing to restore the “promise of America,” Cruz announced: “And that is why, today, I am announcing that I’m running for president of the United States.”

Cruz’s remarks indicated he was intent on positioning himself as a champion of religious conservatives. He began his speech recounting the story of his parents, noting that his father, Rafael, had fled Cuba and initially left Cruz and his mother in Canada before converting to Christianity while in Texas.

“There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you in my family there’s not a second of doubt,” he said.

An emotional Rafael Cruz, now a well-known Texas pastor, said after his son’s speech,”I think he did outstanding.”

Cruz touched on a number of issues that figure to appeal to a conservative primary audience, from Israel to same-sex marriage, to, of course, Obamacare. Cruz’s speech came on the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law.

“Imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.”

It was a refrain Cruz used throughout the speech, exhorting the audience to “imagine” everything a country where the borders were secure, the “sanctity of human life” was defended and “every word of Common Core” was repealed.

The Texas senator also wove the importance of faith throughout his remarks.

“God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation,” he said. “And I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”

The Vines Center, where Cruz delivered his remarks, was practically full for the announcement speech.

Cruz made his bid official just after midnight, tweeting, “I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support!”

His decision to run had been reported throughout the day on Sunday by news organizations. In a campaign video included with his tweet, the newly minted GOP presidential candidate said, “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.”

While the Texan considers himself a full-spectrum conservative who appeals to all in the GOP, he is sending a clear signal with his choice of venue that he intends to compete for the votes of religious conservatives.

Steve Peery, a retiree from Lexington, Ky., and his daughter, Stephanie, described themselves as ardent supporters of Cruz as they waved small flags while awaiting his speech at Liberty.

“He’s a 360-degree turnaround from the current politics we’ve got now,” Peery said. “If he’s trying to get young people, then I’m going to be young again and jump right in. He’s a fresh stream of water.”

Stephanie Peery said she’s behind Cruz because he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“He’s consistent,” she said of Cruz. “He doesn’t waver in his beliefs.”

A freshman senator from Texas, Cruz is one of several Tea Party favorites hoping to be the party standard-bearer who can erase the sting of defeats by Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Cruz will have his work cut out for him in a crowded field that is shaping up to include former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as well as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky — who, like Cruz, were swept into office by Tea Party insurgents.

“From here it’s only up. We have a lot of great candidates that are about to come in and join the field,” said Taylor Budowich, executive director of the Tea Party Express, the largest Tea Party political action committee. “Tea Partiers and conservatives of every stripe are pretty excited about what’s to come in the presidential race.”

About a year ago, Cruz used a speech at the world’s largest Christian university to say religious liberty is “under assault” by the Obama administration. He cited as a prime example the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring insurance coverage for contraceptives. The Supreme Court last June said some for-profit companies don’t have to pay if they object on religious grounds.

Analysts say Cruz’s policy positions will serve him well in the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 1, where evangelical and social conservatives helped propel former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum to victory in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

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Cruz is “probably the ideal candidate for a lot of conservative types who are activists and the Republicans that caucus,” said Craig Robinson, founder of the Iowa Republican website and a former political director of the Iowa GOP. “He’s the natural fit — a strong social conservative who has the fighter mentality. He’s going to be right on all their issues.”

Not all who came to Lynchburg Monday had settled on the Texas senator as their preferred candidate.

Stephen Witham, a government professor at Liberty, attended the speech because he’s undecided about a 2016 candidate and is not sure if Cruz can go the distance.

“The general rule is I like the most conservative candidate who has a good chance to win,” Witham said. “I don’t want to pick someone who has no chance.”

Early public opinion polls on the 2016 GOP race have either Walker or Bush in the lead, with Cruz rating in the single digits. By announcing first, the Texas senator will dominate headlines and benefit from news coverage until the rest of the field takes shape.

Budowich, the Tea Party leader, said Cruz and other GOP candidates need to show they can appeal to a broad range of voters if they want to win in 2016. He believes the senator’s call for “opportunity conservatism” — in which the GOP offers policies that help everyone and not just the wealthy will help Cruz.

“You have to articulate your vision for America,” he said. “We can’t just talk to ourselves. We can’t win a national election if we don’t expand the voter base.”

Follow @ccamia on Twitter.

UP NEXT

03

]]>

Jump into the political way-back machine to see three decades of presidential hopefuls announce their big plans. VPC

5841 LINKEDINMORE

Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1CftOwz

USA NOW
Ted Cruz announces presidential run in 2016 | Why It Matters
Mar 23, 2015

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