U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race over Twitter on Sunday and in a speech at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday.
Cruz is the first major candidate to announce his candidacy. Since he represents the second most-populated state in the country, Texas, Cruz is a major candidate in the current Republican race, according to government professor Sean Theriault.
“Dr. [Ben] Carson has never won an election in his life,” Theriault said, referencing another potential candidate for the Republican primary. “That doesn’t mean that he has no chance, just that he’s never demonstrated that he knows how to put a winning campaign together. Senator Cruz knows how to do that.”
Such an early announcement gives Cruz a short-term advantage, Theriault said. University Democrats president Michelle Willoughby disagreed.
“Announcing early officially isn’t an advantage,” Willoughby said. “What matters more is starting early in the early states like New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, and, in that game, Cruz is significantly later than several other [Republican] contenders who have been spending a lot of time in the early states.”
Cruz, a Texas junior senator, has been under some scrutiny regarding his eligibility to run for and/or serve as president. Cruz was born in Canada, but his mother, who is from Delaware, is a natural-born citizen.
Cruz formally renounced his Canadian citizenship last May and claims he is natural-born through his mother.
Theriault said people questioning Cruz’s citizenship have no grounds for their worries.
“These questions about citizenship are ridiculous — not quite as ridiculous as the questions about Obama’s citizenship, but close,” Theriault said. “His mother is a naturalized citizen.”
Bridget Guien, College Republicans communications director, agreed with Theriault.
“Senator Cruz’s birthplace should not affect his eligibility to run for president,” Guien said. “He is a natural-born citizen and holds the right to run for the presidency.”
Cruz is serving his first term in the U.S. Senate. He defeated then-Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the 2012 election by a 14-point margin.
Theriault said Cruz’s limited time in federal government might not affect his abilities to serve, citing President Barack Obama’s victory after one term in the Senate.
“Ask Barack Obama the same question,” Theriault said. “He was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and, four years later, became president. Cruz would follow the same path.”
Willoughby said Cruz’s political résumé concerns her, calling him the “most extreme candidate considering running.”
“He isn’t polling well, he has alienated many in the GOP leadership and the general Republican voters with his grandstanding, and he is likely to have issues even with the groups that supported him in his campaign for Senator with a more crowded field,” Willoughby said. “These factors mean Cruz winning the primary is pretty unlikely.”
Theriault has more faith in Cruz’s abilities to persevere in the presidential race.
“For the Republicans in 2016, it all comes down to how the other candidates collapse,” Theriault said. “If the hard-right candidates fall like flies, and Cruz wins Iowa, he could have some longevity, especially if Bush has some competition from the ‘establishment’ wing of his party.”
The College Republicans do not officially endorse anybody in the primaries because the group is an auxiliary of the Republican Party.