Also on this page: What Ted Cruz believes

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Sen. Ted Cruz opened the first major campaign of the 2016 presidential season Monday with a kickoff speech courting cultural conservatives and declaring that he will devote himself to “reigniting the promise of America.”

One of several Republican hopefuls to rise from the tea party movement, Cruz spoke at Liberty University, the college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, hours after a wee-hours tweet announcing his White House bid. The choice of the college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell was meant as marker against potential rivals who are also counting on Christian conservatives to fuel their candidacies.

Cruz addressed his religious faith, his father’s Cuban roots and his unquestioned conservative credentials, saying “for so many Americans the promise of America seems more and more distant.”

And he asked the enthusiastic crowd to “imagine a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders.”

“Imagine a simple flat tax,” he said. “Imagine abolishing the IRS.”

He spoke on the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama’s health care law — legislation that prompted Cruz to stand for more than 21 hours in the Senate to denounce it in a marathon speech that delighted his tea party constituency and other foes of the law. Cheers rose in the hall when Cruz reminded the crowd Monday that Liberty University filed a suit against the law right after its enactment.


Cruz, a divisive figure in his own party, is not expected to be the sole GOP contender for long. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and two Senate colleagues, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Florida’s Marco Rubio, are eyeing campaign launches soon.

For his announcement, Cruz bypassed Texas, which he represents in the Senate, as well as early nominating states such as New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney kicked off his own campaign for the GOP nomination in 2012, and Iowa.

By getting in early — and at Liberty — Cruz was hoping to claim ownership of the influential and highly vocal corner of the Republican Party for whom cultural issues are supreme. It was a move at crowding out figures such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has made his Catholic faith a cornerstone of his political identity.

Cruz’s father, a pastor, is also expected to help the 44-year-old first-term senator make inroads with these voters.

Cruz is already a familiar figure on the circuit for presidential hopefuls, having made repeated visits to the early voting states, the big conservative activist conferences and more. This month, for example, he met party activists in New Hampshire, which hosts the leadoff primary. It’s just that, like other presidential prospects, he’s been coy about what he’s doing. That coyness ends Monday as he jumps full in.

By announcing what has long been obvious, Cruz triggers a host of accounting and reporting requirements about money he is raising and how he is spending it. To this point, he had operated his political organization through a non-presidential committee that worked under different rules. By officially joining the race, he now operates under a more stringent set of rules, including being able to accept fewer dollars from each supporter.


Following his election to the Senate in 2012, the former Texas solicitor general quickly established himself as an uncompromising conservative willing to take on Democrats and Republicans alike. Criticized by members of his own party at times, he won praise from tea party activists for leading the GOP’s push to shut the federal government during an unsuccessful bid to block money for President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The son of an American mother and Cuban-born father, Cruz is positioning himself to become potentially the nation’s first Hispanic president. While he was born in Canada, two lawyers who represented presidents from both parties at the Supreme Court recently wrote in the Harvard Law Review that they think Cruz meets the constitutional standard to run.

Should he fail to win the nomination or the presidency, Cruz would retain his Senate seat through 2019. He also could elect to run for re-election in 2018, having broadened his national network of allies and donors during this presidential campaign.

Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.

By Max Ehrenfreund, The Washington Post


WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is giving a speech Monday describing his plans to run for president. Here’s a look at where the senator stands on a few important domestic-policy questions.

Health care

Cruz is probably best known for his opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law. He was one of the leaders of an effort to defund the law in 2013, an effort that ultimately shut down the government for 16 days. Cruz wants to repeal the law and to allow people to buy insurance sold in another state, a staple of Republican health-care proposals. Cruz also wants to expand health savings accounts, an approach to insurance that encourages consumers to save money in case they have medical expenses.

Net neutrality

Cruz has been outspoken on the issue of net neutrality, the idea that cable companies should provide Internet access to any Web site at the same speed and price. After Obama made a statement supporting strong net neutrality regulations last year, Cruz famously compared net neutrality to the health care law:

“Net Neutrality” is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission issued forceful new rules on net neutrality, and Republicans in Congress have been working to come up with an alternative approach to regulating the Internet. A spokesman for Cruz has said the senator supports those efforts.

Climate change

Last week on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Cruz said the earth is not getting warmer.


“Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. Many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up. In particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there’s been zero warming. None whatsoever.”

While the pace of global warming has slowed, the planet is still getting warmer, and 2014 was the hottest year on record for average temperatures worldwide. What’s more, Cruz distorts the data by choosing a 17-year-period as his yardstick, since 1998 was an exceptionally warm year. Focusing on the past 16 years or the past 18 years, the pace of warming has been more dramatic.

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, a spokesman for Cruz noted that the senator had recently voted in favor of a resolution stating that climate change is real. The resolution did not specify whether human activity was the cause.

“What Cruz is casting doubt on is the idea that we should make major policy decisions affecting the livelihoods of millions of people in the name of theoretical conclusions that in fact cannot currently be drawn from science or data,” the spokesman said.


Along with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Cruz supports legislation that would require the Federal Reserve to “fully open its books,” he said earlier this year. Fed chair Janet Yellen has said that the legislation amounts to political meddling in the highly technical task of setting interest rates, which is better left to experts, and that the central bank is already audited. Many economists agree, although some experts argue for limiting the independence of Fed officials in one way or another.

Gay marriage

Cruz has proposed legislation and a constitutional amendment allowing each state to define marriage within its borders, which would allow conservative-leaning states to ban gay marriage. (Whether states have this authority now is unclear. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case on this question next month.)

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