Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is the first to formally throw his gallon-size hat into the ring for a bid for the White House in 2016.
Cruz formally announced his candidacy Monday morning at the right-wing Liberty University, reports The New York Times.
Cruz's formal campaign announcement — at the university founded by noted homophobe Jerry Falwell — was chock-full of right-wing rhetoric seemingly aimed at the senator's conservative base. The crowd reportedly numbered in the thousands, though LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement notes that Liberty University students were required to attend the event.
"Instead of a federal government that wages an assault on our religious liberty, that goes after Hobby Lobby, that goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes after Liberty University, imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American," said Cruz. "Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend a sanctity of human life — and to uphold the sacrament of marriage."
In his speech, which lasted more than 30 minutes, Cruz made a wide range of promises, asking the audience to "imagine" having "a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders," imposes a "simple flat tax," abolishes the Internal Revenue Service and "in 2017, [signs] legislation repealing every word of Obamacare."
Cruz is a darling of the right-wing Tea Party who rose to national prominence for his efforts to shut down the government in 2013 over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, famously reading Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor during a lengthy filibuster. The son of a Cuban refugee — who is now a virulently antigay preacher — the younger Cruz has his own record of standing in the way of LGBT equality. Earlier this year, Cruz reintroduced the State Marriage Defense Act, which would prevent the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples who don’t live in a marriage equality state. Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government has recognized all marriages that were legal in the state where they were performed, regardless of where a couple lives — but Cruz's bill essentially seeks to unmarry those couples.
Cruz's dogged determination to deny legally married same-sex couples equality under the law won him the top spot in The Advocate's 2014 Phobie Awards, which honor "the worst people of the year."
You can watch Cruz's full speech below, with his comments on marriage starting near the the 18:50 mark.