Ted Cruz officially declared his run for president during a speech on Monday morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. During the rousing speech, the Republican senator from Texas painted a picture of a future without Obamacare and pushed for abolishing the IRS. He also strongly defended "unapologetically" standing by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, drawing cheers from the students gathered for the school convocation.
The speech was the first time Cruz has spoken since announcing his bid via a short video on Twitter late Sunday night.
"It's going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again, and I'm willing to stand with you to lead the fight," Cruz said in the video, which featured footage of churches, baseball games, cornfields and other campaign-friendly imagery.
Cruz is set to deliver his first speech as a presidential candidate Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty University, founded by the late conservative preacher Jerry Falwell, is one of the most prominent evangelical schools in America.
As much as any politician in America, Cruz embodies the tea party movement that has defined the GOP in the Obama era. After winning his Senate seat in 2012, he made a name for himself by pitching Republicans on a strategy of using obstructionist tactics to force crises and then issuing lofty demands to Democrats to resolve them. In 2013, he rallied conservatives behind a plan to tie must-pass legislation funding the government to delay or block the Affordable Care Act's implementation, leading to a government shutdown that ended with the health care law still virtually intact.
Cruz is counting on his close ties to the grassroots right and history of battles with GOP leaders in Washington to give him a shot at consolidating conservative opposition to likely rival Jeb Bush, who enjoys strong support from the party's establishment wing. He'll face plenty of competition from possible candidates for the role: Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are popular with social conservatives; Rand Paul is a libertarian icon with his own close ties to the tea party; and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has moved up in the polls as a leading Bush alternative.