‘Cruzing’ out of the gate

Presidential hopeful launches campaign from Liberty University

Ted Cruz, the first official 2016 presidential candidate, shares stage with his wife and children. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

Ted Cruz, the first official 2016 presidential candidate, shares stage with his wife and children. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 44, announced his candidacy for president Monday, March 23, at Liberty University’s weekly Convocation.

“Today, I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States,” Cruz said to an energetic crowd in a packed Vines Center, receiving loud applause and a standing ovation.

In announcing his bid, the 2016 hopeful, who placed third in this year’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, skipped the longstanding traditional step of first forming an exploratory committee.

“It is time for liberty, it is time for truth, it is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States,” Cruz said.

Cruz, circling the stage in the middle of the Vines Center, declared “unapologetic” support for the nation of Israel, appealing to the evangelical presence on campus.

The announcement at Liberty is fitting, as Cruz has joked, “I’m Cuban, Irish and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist,” according to Dallas News.

Additionally, Cruz advocated for the protection of Second Amendment rights, protection from the National Security Agency and voiced disapproval for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a key piece of legislation for the president.

“Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law, … and hours later, Liberty University went to court to stop that law,” Cruz said, launching thunderous applause throughout the arena.

Cruz’s request to launch his campaign from Liberty’s campus signals that the university has reached a new level, according to Liberty President Jerry Falwell.

“We’re honored that political candidates are now requesting to appear at Liberty,” Falwell said. “We never had that happen years ago — we had to invite them. I think it’s a testament to what Liberty students have accomplished and what they are accomplishing.”

Quincy Thompson, Liberty’s Student Government Association president, called Cruz’s choice to launch his campaign in Convocation as “brilliant.”

“To come to the world’s largest Christian university is a statement in and of itself,” Thompson said. “I think he was very clear in his commitment to Christ.”

Cruz, advocating for traditional conservative values, said he was raised Christian, reminiscing of his journey to faith at Clay Road Baptist Church in Houston.

“Imagine a federal government that works to preserve the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage,” Cruz said, as students waved American flags, creating campaign fanfare.

Falwell said he believes Liberty has become a “regular stop” for politicians seeking national office.

“From a student’s perspective, I’m very, very proud,” Thompson said. “I’m blessed to be at a university that has such a major platform … that stands for Christian values.”

In response to those who claim this is a political endorsement for Liberty, Falwell said the university plans to have many candidates visit before the 2016 campaign is over.

After Cruz’s announcement, Falwell explained to many media representatives that Convocation is “not a worship service” and that “it’s an opportunity to hear from speakers of all walks of life.”

“Liberty, of course, by law, can’t endorse candidates, and we don’t plan to break the law,” Falwell said.

According to Falwell, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the originally scheduled keynote speaker for Monday’s Convocation, was informed of Cruz’s plan to visit. McAuliffe was given the opportunity to share the stage with Cruz or to remain the only speaker, in which case Cruz’s event would have been moved to the afternoon, Falwell told the Champion.

“His folks decided that he had some important things that he wanted to say to Liberty students,” Falwell said. “He wanted to come back when there wasn’t so much else going on at Liberty.”

According to Falwell, the governor’s assistant is working with the university, and McAuliffe is tentatively scheduled to visit the campus in the fall 2015 semester.

GOINS-PHILLIPS is the opinion editor


  • This is just disappointing that the administration would allow Liberty to be used a tool in one mans campaign.

  • He looks like he is going to burst into tears.

  • According to PBS, “As co-sponsor of the State Marriage Defense Act, Cruz would allow states that oppose gay marriage to not recognize gay couples who were married in other states.”

    Would this not conflict with the “Full Faith & Credit” clause? I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but it is my understanding that, thanks to this clause, any Straight couple can fly off to Las Vegas for a drunken weekend, get married by an Elvis impersonator, and that marriage is automatically honored in all 50 states, no questions asked. If a married heterosexual couple relocate to a different state, they don’t have to re-apply for new marriage license, because that contract between them stays valid across state lines.

    But if I understand Ted Cruz correctly, if a legally married Gay couple in Iowa decide to relocate south to Missouri because of a good job opportunity, the state of Missouri should have the power to declare their marriage null and void. And if states have that power, do Gay couples subsequently lose all their federal benefits such as survivorship under Social Security?

    Am I wrong about this?

  • Ted Cruz is the man we need to get this country back as the leader in the world. While the commenter from PBS slams his views on gay marriage. What about those of us who believe in traditional marriage? The government should not be involved in the marriage business. While the gay lobby is upset about marriage many of us Christians are losing our rights.. We have serious problems in this country and both parties are to blame. I will support someone who does what he is elected to do. Which is exactly what Ted Cruz has done. Cruz 2016.
    We need to get back to the Constitution and someone who cares about the people not special interests. We also need and President that stands with Israel. Pray for him because he is going to get attacked by the old guard of the GOP and the Democrats who are both very afraid of him.

    • DEAR JOE:

      Which of us does NOT believe in “traditional marriage”? If any of my single Straight friends finds a compatible person of the opposite sex to get “traditionally married” to, no one shall be happier than I. The fact that I support marriage equality for law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples doesn’t mean I’m somehow opposed to “traditional marriage” for Straight couples.

      Did you think the marriage equality movement was some sinister plot to make homosexuality compulsory for everyone? Gosh, I hope not.

    • You heard Senator Cruz say he would abolish every word of Obama Care if elected President. Of course, he wont be elected and based on some of his statements, he doesn’t have a clue as to what the President can and cannot do. Do you know, without Obamacare, you would lose your health insurance the day after you graduate? President Obama upped the effective date to 26 years old. Be careful for what you wish for!!

    • Yes, I totally agree, Ted Cruz is exactly the leader this country needs who is standing on the principle and believes that all the power came from God, who is not afraid to speak what is right, who will lead this country back to God. God has blessed United States so much, yet we are turning away from Him. Because our leaders and policy makers are not look up to God for directions, instead they are look after their own interest. I really hope God will give us a president who would fix his eyes upon God to look for strength and guides. May God bless United States for many years to come.

  • You are mostly right Chuck, while we would not lose the more than 1000 federal benefits Uncle Sam gives to those who make the choice to get married, in Cruz’s dream world he thinks that states should be able to deny rights. These notions are only presented by folks who thrive on different forms of segregation. Fortunately we answer to the Constitution and not Cruz or ANY other politician.
    It’s so amusing that people like him (like I used to be) strive to deceive their followers that these ideas are plausible, american or legal. But many of these people do not have anything else to present. Clearly they are stuck in a mental time frame where they think just like many church members think… if we can’t agree on something, let’s split the church up. This is the same mentality of his thinking on marriage. For him and his ilk t’s sad, it isn’t going to happen and wasteful.

  • Well written, Tre! I think it’s great that LU welcomes candidates from all parties to express how they plan to lead our nation while the crowd of young people has the importance of voting reinforced on their own turf. It brings “distant ideals” of the importance of voting right in front of them and reminds them that these things matter in shaping what our nation’s future looks like. Keep up the good writing!

  • Pingback: Ted Cruz Appeals to Liberty at Start of 2016 Race for President

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