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Sen. Ted Cruz announced his 2016 presidential bid Monday during a speech at Liberty University in Virginia, making him the first contender to formally announce a White House run.
“I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America," Cruz said. "That’s why today, I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States."
In remarks with a heavy focus on his faith, Cruz won applause from thousands of the evangelical university's students for assailing the president's health care policy and immigration actions.
"It is the time for truth, it is the time for liberty, it is the time to reclaim the constitution of the United States," he said.
Cruz's wife Heidi and their two daughters were in the audience along with his father, Pastor Rafael Cruz.
"The power of the American people when we rise up and stand for liberty knows no boundaries," he told the crowd at the convocation ceremony.
Cruz tweeted late Sunday night to formally announce his run.
A favorite of Tea Party activists, Cruz is known for his filibuster-like speech to protest the Affordable Care Act as a government shutdown loomed in 2013.
First elected to the Senate in 2012, Cruz previously served as the the solicitor general of Texas.
In a March NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll, 40 percent of GOP primary voters said they could see themselves supporting Cruz for president, while 38 percent said they could not see themselves backing him.
- Carrie Dann