Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz announces presidential bid

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Sen. Ted Cruz laid out his vision to a crowd at Liberty College in Virginia Monday

After officially announcing on Twitter just after midnight on Monday with a 32-second video proclaiming his intention to run, he addressed thousands in Lynchburg, Virginia, in what staffers billed as an "important speech."

In front of a packed basketball arena on the campus of Liberty University, the 44-year-old, first-term Texas Senator said, "Today, I want to talk to you about the promise of America" he said, before talking about the history of his parents, Rafael and Eleanor, his wife, Heidi, and their two children.

"For so many Americans, the promise seems more and more distant," he said. "The incredible opportunity of the American dream is that promise. So many fear it is slipping away. I want to reignite the promise of America."

Cruz is the first candidate in either major political party to officially declare his intention to run for president in 2016.

Cruz will position himself as a true conservative with what his team calls a proven track record.

"I want to ask each of you to imagine millions of conservatives rising up together to say we demand our liberty," he said to the crowd at Liberty University.

A media handout that today's announcement read in part, "politicians all too often promise one thing on the campaign trail, only to break those promises one selected. We should ask every candidate to prove it: You say you believe in these principles. Show me. When have you fought for conservative principles and what have you accomplished?"

Cruise, the former Solicitor General of Texas, rose to national prominence after defeating then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the 2012 Republican primary in a race for one of Texas' two senate seats.

His staunch opposition to Obamacare and his hard line on immigration reform have drawn praise from supporters. They cite his straightforward, unwavering principles as unique and refreshing.

Critics, however, suggest Cruz is too uncompromising and enjoys grandstanding rather than working toward solutions in Washington.

Cruz chose Liberty University for his announcement because it puts him in front of the kinds of voters his campaign will court; young, active, social conservatives and evangelicals.

"There are people who wonder if faith is real," he told the audience at the Christian school. "I can tell you in my family there is no doubt."

He last spoke here in April 2014.

Since then, he has spent much of the last six months traveling to early primary states, laying the groundwork for what was presumed to be a 2016 campaign.

He told Eyewitness News just three weeks ago he was overwhelmed by the amount of support he was receiving from conservatives, activists and potential donors.

He is Ivy League educated, having received an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard. He is a Houston resident and is married to wife Heidi. They have two children.

Cruz is the first officially-declared candidate for either major political party.

He likely faces a challenge from at least three other men with Texas roots: former Governor Rick Perry, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul will likely announce his candidacy on April 7.

Real Estate Investor Donald Trump has also announced his interest in running as a GOP candidate, as have former HP CEO Carly Fiorinia, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy as a Democrat in the coming weeks.
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