And they're off.
After a midnight tweet, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tied together the American Revolution, nostalgia for a better time, and an appeal to social conservatives in his official kickoff speech at Liberty University in Virginia.
"God's blessing has been on America from the beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn't done with America yet," Cruz said at the Christian evangelical university founded by preacher Jerry Falwell. "I believe in you; I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives to reignite the power of America.
"And that is why today I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States."
Cruz also noted in his speech, which was heavy on biography, that "roughly half of born-again Christians aren't voting. They're staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith going out to the polls and voting our values."
Cruz's appeal is a clear indication of the path he is trying to carve out to try to win the nomination — and it goes through Iowa and South Carolina. He trails in early presidential polling, but he hopes his appeal to the Tea Party, religious conservatives, and his tenacity at trying to win an argument can propel him ahead.
Cruz painted a picture of what a country with a President Cruz might look like — one where:
- College graduates are getting half a dozen job offers
- Regulators and tax collectors are "kept at bay"
- The country would be energy self-sufficient
- Obamacare would be repealed, but there would be health care that was "portable" and affordable
- The IRS would be abolished
- Borders are secure
- Gun rights are protected
- The "sacrament of marriage" would be upheld
- Common Core would be no more
- "School choice" would be "the civil rights issue of the next generation"
- The U.S. would stand "unapologetically with Israel"
- Iran wouldn't be allowed to get a nuclear weapon
- The U.S. would "stand up and defeat Islamic terrorism — and we will call it by its name."