Texas Senator Ted Cruz is the first Republican candidate to announce his intent to run for president of the United States, and he did so at a mandatory meeting at the largest private Christian university in the world – Liberty University.
“It is the time for truth. It is the time for liberty. It is the time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States,” Cruz said to thousands of college students. “Imagine millions of young people coming together and standing together, saying, ‘We will stand for liberty.’”
His first announcement occurred on Twitter shortly after 11 p.m. on March 22. The following day, Cruz made his announcement to nearly 11,000 students at Liberty.
Some controversy has arisen regarding the honesty surrounding the announcement. Students are required to attend the school’s weekly convocation meetings, and many protested the illusion of massive support for Cruz.
Students who chose not to attend the event, which took place during weekly convocation, faced a $10 fine.
Student Jessica Cramer wrote in a Facebook post that Sen. Cruz’ s “choice to announce his 2016 presidential bid at convocation at Liberty University is a starkly deceptive one.”
Hundreds of similar messages were posted on social media, but other students defended Cruz’ decision to make his in-person announcement to the student body.
“[This is] about him abusing the system in place at Liberty to make himself seem more popular than he is. Great politics, bad morals,” Christopher Thomas Witting wrote.
Though students expressed both their disdain and support for Cruz’ announcement, Liberty President, Jerry Falwell Jr. responded separately.
“Convocation speakers do not all line up with traditional Evangelical Christian viewpoints or even Liberty University’s doctrinal statement,” he said. “A fundamental part of the college experience is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints so students can better understand why they hold their own beliefs and be better prepared to defend them.”
Cruz’ first speech as a candidate addressed reigniting the promise of America, and standing together to “get back the principles that made this country great.”