In 2016 Bid, Cruz Lays Out Conservative Agenda

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Candidate says he would aim to eliminate health care law, education standards, IRS

Sen. Ted Cruz officially announced his presidential campaign to a crowd of students at a Christian university here Monday, casting himself as a “courageous conservative” ready to lead the country sharply to the right by getting rid of the health care law, national education standards and the Internal Revenue Service.

“I am honored to stand with each and every one of you courageous conservatives as we come together to reclaim the promise of America,” the Texas Republican said in a speech at Liberty University. “This is our fight. The answer will not come from Washington.”

The announcement makes him the first candidate to enter the 2016 campaign officially, an early move that kicks off a primary-election debate over how far to the right the party should go to win back the White House.

The senator had already posted the news online early Monday, tweeting at 12:09 a.m., “I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support!”

Though Mr. Cruz is the first Republican to join the race, polling suggests he is far from the front-runner for the nomination. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month found 40% of Republican primary voters could see themselves backing him for president, while 38% said they couldn’t. Among 14 potential GOP candidates, seven drew higher levels of support.

Some Republicans warn that the junior senator, 44, is too green for the job. GOP fundraiser Said Fred Malek said, “Our country needs someone who has a proven record of leadership and accomplishment, and that comes only from our governors, present or past. My fear is that we have experimented with a first term senator who speaks well but lacks experience, and it hasn’t worked too well over the past six years.”

Other Republican critics say he is too polarizing to win the generation election.

Mr. Cruz stands for a brand of ideological conservatism that contrasts with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has said a successful presidential candidate must be willing to “lose the primary”—that is, risk angering the party’s most conservative voters—to succeed with the more centrist electorate in the general election.

By contrast, Mr. Cruz has sometimes angered congressional leaders with his unrelenting push for conservative goals—most notably in helping to prompt the 2013 government shutdown through his effort to unwind the 2010 Democratic-backed Affordable Care Act. Many Republicans say the episode damaged the party’s image.

For a man viewed by critics as a rigid ideologue, Mr. Cruz sought to present a softer side by beginning the speech with biographical stories of his family, including his Cuban immigrant father, who briefly abandoned his family while Mr. Cruz was a child.

“There are people who wonder if faith is real,” he said. “I can tell you in my family there is not a second of doubt.”

Democrats welcomed the early entry of one of the GOP’s most conservative candidates, seeing him as an easy target who galvanizes their own liberal base. “Ted Cruz’s candidacy is taking the Republican Party to new extremes,” said Marcy Stech, spokeswoman for Emily’s List, a political group that supports female candidates who support abortion rights. “As the first [Republican] to throw his hat into the ring, Ted Cruz is just a preview of things to come.”

Republican donors who remain uncommitted to a candidate said the early timing of Mr. Cruz’s announcement suggests he is running out of money. Indeed, his leadership PAC, the Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund, has seen its fundraising dwindle in recent months. In February, the PAC took in about $42,000—less than half the amount it raised in January. The committee’s war chest also shrunk precipitously, from $154,000 at the end of January to $42,500 at the end of February.

Formally announcing his bid allows Mr. Cruz to start raising money for his campaign. Funds raised for his leadership PAC may not be used directly for campaigning expenses and are largely intended to be redistributed to other candidates. Individuals can give up to $2,700 to a candidate in the primary and another $2,700 in the general election.

Mr. Cruz is likely to rely more heavily than other prospective GOP candidates on small-dollar, tea party donors, as the party’s major fundraisers are so far mostly leaning toward Messrs. Bush and Walker.

Mr. Walker’s recent rise in polls and visibility poses a particular challenge to Mr. Cruz. The governor, with his record of fighting labor unions and rebuffing a Democratic effort to recall him, has increasingly been seen as the principal conservative alternative to Mr. Bush. Mr. Walker also has been making a play for support among religious conservatives who are core elements of Mr. Cruz’s base.

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