Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is counting on the support of conservative Christians to build a base he can spring from to capture the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
Cruz announced his candidacy at Liberty University, founded by famed evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell, and aimed straight for the hearts of the audience with his request that they become more actively involved with the 2016 election than they have been in recent elections. Cruz bluntly said, “God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet,” adding that the audience, and by extension Christian conservatives, should make a point of going to the polls and “voting our values.”
Although Reuters reports that its Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls show Cruz statistically tied with five other potential candidates, far behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Cruz’s support may prove to be more solid; as Liberty University Jerry Falwell, Jr. said, many evangelicals have eschewed voting in recent elections because they disliked the centrist policies of John McCain and Mitt Romney, but may turn out for Cruz. He added, “If someone could mobilize that bloc, it would be amazing.” Reuters estimates 40% percent of Republican primary voters consider themselves evangelical or born again.
In Iowa, the first important test for 2016, 57% of Republican voters in the Iowa caucus called themselves evangelical or born-again Christians in 2012.
Cruz related that his father left the family when Cruz was three years old but returned when he became a Baptist. Cruz asserted, “If not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would have been… raised by a single mom without my father in the house.”
Cruz touched on issues that resonated deeply with the religious crowd, including his desire to repeal Obamacare, abolish the IRS, and stop same-sex marriage. Cruz stated, “Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.”
The audience gave Cruz huge applause when he asserted that Barack Obama had deliberately reduced the fact that ISIS was Islamic; he stated, “Imagine a president who says ‘We will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism and we will call it by its name.’” They also heartily applauded when Cruz said, “Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”