Cruz first to make formal ’16 bid

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

And they’re off: Ted Cruz to be first to announce 2016 US presidency bid.

The announcement will be at Liberty University. WASHINGTON – Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand who frequently clashes with leaders of his Republican Party, will become the first major figure from either party to jump into the 2016 US presidential election race on Monday. Jerry Falwell, Liberty describes itself as “the largest Christian University in the world.” Though Ted Cruz just joined the Senate in 2013, he’s already had a far greater impact on policy than most freshman senators — though in a very controversial way. More than a dozen potential presidential candidates are already courting donors and voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire that vote early in next year’s primary season.

His plans were confirmed Sunday by one of his political strategists, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity so as not to preclude the announcement. This has led many conservatives — including Cruz — to argue that their anti-Obamacare strategy was not, in fact, a mistake. “Republicans need to actually do what we say we’ll do,” Cruz said last year. “It was not a mistake for Republicans to stand up and fight Obamacare.” Cruz is likely jumping in because he sees a vacuum in the GOP’s 2016 field — despite the plethora of potential candidates, there’s no one strong conservative who’s both charismatic and rock-solidly against immigration reform. While Cruz is the first Republican to declare his candidacy, he is all but certain to be followed by several big names in the GOP, including former Florida Gov. Loved by conservative activists, Cruz is extremely skillful at giving a red-meat speech to cheering crowds. “He will easily get elected president of Conservative America,” Jim Geraghty of National Review wrote in January. Rick Perry. “To legitimately have a shot at winning the nomination, Ted Cruz will have to be the pre-eminent candidate for both grass-roots conservatives and social conservatives,” O’Connell said. “Which means he will need to elbow out (former Arkansas Gov.) Mike Huckabee and (physician) Ben Carson, he’ll have to eat into Scott Walker’s support right now, and he’ll have to pretty much quash Rand Paul altogether.” Cruz enters the race as one of the biggest audience-pleasers in the Republican field.

While non-declared candidates like former Florida governor Jeb Bush can solicit million-dollar checks for their political organizations, Cruz will not be able to ask supporters for more than $5,400, the maximum contribution allowed for candidates. But the cheers in preliminary appearances in early-voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina so far have rarely translated into tangible support. His Tea Party base is warming to Walker, and growing numbers of conservatives are seeking someone who would be more likely to win a general election against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Jeb Bush and Scott Walker can take their time announcing their candidacy,” O’Connell said. “The others, I think, will find that there will be more pressure for them to jump in.” Cruz is hoping to appeal to both Tea Party voters and socially conservative Christians, as the choice of Liberty University as an announcement venue indicates. Later that year, Cruz pushed his party to force a 16-day government shutdown in an unsuccessful effort to deny funding to President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act.

In the last two GOP nomination fights, evangelical conservatives ended up backing Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, both of whom had little support from other elements of the party. He won praise from Tea Party activists in 2013 for leading the GOP’s push to partially shut the federal government during an unsuccessful bid to block money for President Barack Obama’s health care law. Cruz hopes that his strong social conservatism will win over the Christian right, and that his conservatism on immigration, Obamacare, and economic issues will win over the less overtly religious Tea Party supporters. In recent weeks, he has criticized other potential Republican candidates for supporting comprehensive immigration reform and the Common Core educational standards. Likely candidates like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have previously supported proposals to legalize unauthorized immigrants’ status, and Jeb Bush still does.

Cruz is a proven fundraiser, collecting in $18 million for his Senate race and raising a further $2 million to distribute to other candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That might be less than the total raised by more establishment-friendly candidates like Bush or Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is viewed favorably by many wealthy donors in a conservative network led by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The Washington Post’s George Will has said that Cruz “is frankly loathed by the GOP caucus,” and that he “is completely indifferent to the fact that politics is a team sport. Cruz will argue that he’ll take his case to rank-and-file activists, but party elites play an important role in choosing the nominee, so this will be a real difficulty for him. And, even now, some of the proposals he pushes — like one to abolish the IRS and move all of its agents to help secure our southern border — seem more like red-meat applause lines than serious policies.

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