|Sen. Rafael "Ted" Cruz (R-TX) announced his Presidential|
candidacy Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg,
Cruz, who has been a rising political star for years (see a profile of him from 2009 when he was considering running for attorney general of Texas and another from around the same time, mentioning him as a possible 2020 Presidential contender), has made a name for himself since his upset win against then-Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst in the Senate primary. Since his victory in 2012, Cruz has become known as a conservative firebrand in the Senate.
When he first arrived, Cruz enjoyed a some popularity as a newly minted member, however, public perception began to turn against his favor, both inside and outside his own Republican Party, after he strongly supported a complete defunding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which led to the federal government shutdown in 2013.
Some of his fellow Republicans began to publicly reprimand the senator, his main adversary being Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who also has 2016 Presidential aspirations. King said Monday on CNN that if Cruz gets the GOP nod, "I will jump off that bridge when we come to it.”
Cruz has also appealed strongly to the libertarian wing of the party, placing him in competition with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), son of libertarian firebrand Ron Paul, a former Republican representative, GOP Presidential contender, and 1988 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee.
Cruz delivered a strongly conservative speech Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, which is becoming a center for conservative political activities, much like Bob Jones University was in the mid to late 20th century. With a captive audience (literally, as all Liberty University students must attend tri-weekly meetings, called convocations, of face penalties), Cruz delivered a speech full of conservative ideals, such as repealing the health care law, abolishing the IRS, supporting marriage between a man and a woman, rescinding President Obama's executive immigration orders, and a stronger relationship between the US and Israel.
MORE: Read Cruz's transcript from his Monday speech at Liberty University.
Cruz, a Princeton University alumnus and Harvard Law School graduate, is a former national debater, which could work in his favor in the GOP primary debates and the general election debates against the Democratic nominee, should he receive the nomination.
Cruz, 44, is also much like Obama during his run in 2008. Both were (or rather are, in Cruz's case) first term senators only two years into their terms. Obama lacked much of a legislative record, as does Cruz. Both had become well-known in political circles before announcing their candidacies. For Obama, then an Illinois state senator, his notoriety came after his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Cruz gained national notoriety after his aforementioned victory against Dewhurst in the Senate primary in 2012.
Cruz faces low polling numbers, standing at only 4% according to a CNN/ORC poll. His main rivals are Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. None except Cruz have yet announced their candidacies, but most, if not all, are expected to do so.
If he wins the nomination, he will likely face off against former first lady, former Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If she declines or loses the Democratic nomination, possible candidates include Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.