Mar 23, 2015 7:14 AM

Paul Steinhauser: Ted Cruz announces official 2016 bid for president

CONCORD - Ted Cruz is in.

The Republican senator from Texas became the first major candidate in either party to officially launch a 2016 presidential campaign. He announced his White House bid overnight Sunday into Monday by writing on this Twitter page that "I'm running for President and I hope to earn your support!"

In a video posted to his twitter page, Cruz said that "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."

Cruz made a formal declaration of his candidacy Monday morning, when he gave the convocation address Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

"I believ in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives, rising up to reignite the promise of America. And that is why today I am announcing that I am running for President of the United States," Cruz said to applause.

Cruz, elected to the Senate in 2012 thanks to strong support from tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives, has hinted for months that might run for the White House. He said just a week ago in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News that "I'm looking at running for president very seriously. The support we're seeing on the ground is incredible. I mean it's breathtaking. The enthusiasm here in New Hampshire is astonishing and we're seeing it in early states across the country."

While Cruz is expected to battle for tea party voters and others on the right end of the GOP, by announcing at Liberty University, a non-profit Christian university founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell, the son of a pastor is also signaling that he'll court social conservative voters as well.

And in his speech, Cruz reached out to such voters, saying "instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage."

The address was full of red meat. Cruz said "imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare."

And he added "instead of a federal government that seeks to dictate school cirriculum, imagine repealing ever word of Common Core."

Cruz also reached out to national security conservatives, saying "under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon," adding imagine a president who stand unapologetically with thenation of Israel."

In his video, Cruz appeared to take a jab at some of his potential rivals for the Republican nomination, saying "if you want more of the same there will be plenty to choose from. But if you want real conservative change, and a proven record, I hope I can earn your support."

Last week Cruz told NH1 that "every time the Republican Party looks to the mushy middle, every time the Republican Party nominates the candidate that all of the Washington pundits say is quote the most electable, that candidate loses."

Watch Ted Cruz talk one-on-one with NH1 News

And asked about former Florida Jeb Bush, who's expected to launch a GOP presidential campaign, Cruz seemed to compare Bush to Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney, former GOP presidential nominees who were anything but favorites of the right. All three men lost in the general election.

"What they did didn't work. And if we nominate another candidate in the same mold, the same voters who stayed home in '08 and '12 will stay home in '16 and Hillary Clinton's the nextpresident," Cruz said.

Cruz, 44, a former Texas solicitor general, quickly established himself as a favorite of the right soon after joining the U.S. Senate. He not only battled Democrats but also members of his own party as he led the fight to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. In 2013, Cruz led the drive to shut down the federal government in an unsuccessful attempt to block funding for the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz's family joined him at Liberty University. Cruz is the father to two little girls. He told NH1 last week that his whole family's on board if he does decide to run for the White House.

Opening up about his wife Heidi, Cruz said "she' s my best friend. We are partners in everything we do. And when I ran for Senate, she was by my side. Everything we do we do together. And then our two little girls, Caroline and Catherine, Caroline is six, Catherine is four. They are the loves of our life. We do everything together as a family."

And he shared a story about getting a thumbs up on a presidential run from his eldest daughter.

"Heidi and I live right now in a high-rise condo in Houston. That's a fairly small condo there. And Caroline told me about a month ago, our six year old, she looked at me and said ‘OK dad, I've decided it's OK if you run for president. Because if you win, Snowflake our puppy will finally have a backyard to pee in."


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