Lynchburg, Va. — A long line of fans wanting to greet Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) had already put the first Republican presidential candidate to make his candidacy official behind schedule, but one young man made him pause for a double-take.
“We need a picture of this — that is very cool,” Cruz said to the Liberty University student who had “We the People” tattooed on his bicep. It was a fitting graphic to accompany Cruz’s response to the reporters who asked if he felt ready to be president and to run a grueling presidential campaign.
“That’s where you’re lacking the faith in what’s happening across this country,” Cruz told the press. “It’s coming from the people. Washington won’t turn us around, but what will turn us around is millions of courageous conservatives who are inspired to reignite the promise of America.”
#related#Certainly, Cruz inspired the crowd at Liberty. He received 30 seconds of applause for urging the crowd to “imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel,” a shot at President Obama’s perceived opposition to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection. The crowd also hailed his support for traditional marriage, pro-life principles, and — of all things, at a university convocation — the flat tax and the abolition of the IRS.
Cruz’s preface was perhaps the most important part of the speech, though. Before getting into the policy points, he told the story of his parents separating when he was three years old, before his father converted to Christianity.
“And God transformed his heart and he drove to the airport, he bought a plane ticket, and he flew back to be with my mother and me,” Cruz said. “There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you, in my family, there is not a second of doubt because were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ . . . I would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the house.”
The anecdote endeared the presidential hopeful to the Christian audience in a way that no policy platform can, allowing him to address them credibly about “our values” throughout the rest of the speech.
“Imagine millions of courageous conservatives all across America rising up together to say in unison we demand our liberty,” he said. “Today, roughly half of born-again Christians aren’t voting; they’re staying home. Imagine, instead, millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.”
That’s a dream scenario for Cruz’s team. One aide described the presidential contest in March Madness terms, saying that there are four brackets in the Republican primary campaign: the establishment bracket, the Tea Party bracket, the Evangelical bracket, and the libertarian bracket,
“We’re the No. 1 seed in the Tea Party bracket,” the aide says to National Review. “I think this makes us the No. 1 seed in the Evangelical bracket.”
Cruz embraced more of an underdog status during his speech, acknowledging that he might have to make an uphill climb, before recalling a long list of American triumphs — ranging George Washington’s perseverance in the face of Revolutionary War defeats to the Ronald Reagan’s successes against the Soviets that he associates with the goals of his campaign.
“That would have seemed unimaginable, and yet with the grace of God, that’s exactly what happened,” he said. “Compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain’t all that tough.”