Ted Cruz, who wants a federal ban on same-sex marriage, to launch presidential bid

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz AP

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)AP

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has called for sweeping legislation to undo federal recognition of marriage equality and modify the U.S. Constitution to block same-sex marriage, will announce Monday that he will run for president of the United States.

Cruz will formally get into the race during a morning speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, choosing to begin his campaign at the Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell rather than his home state of Texas or the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

It’s a fitting setting for Cruz, a 44-year-old tea party darling whose entry into the 2016 campaign drew cheers Sunday among fellow conservatives.

Elected for the first time just three years ago, when he defeated an establishment figure in Texas politics with decades of experience in office, Cruz has hinted openly for more than a year that he wants to move from the Senate and into the White House.

His plans were confirmed Sunday by one of his political strategists, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity so as not to preclude the announcement.

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While Cruz is the first Republican to declare his candidacy, he is all but certain to be followed by several big names in the GOP, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and two Senate colleagues, Kentucky‘s Rand Paul and Florida’s Marco Rubio.

Critics of Cruz argue that he will have trouble raising high-dollar donations from traditional contributors, will land few endorsements from the nation’s political establishment and be unable to escape comparisons to President Barack Obama, who also ran for president in his first Senate term.

And if he advances to a general election, Cruz trails likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton solidly in early public opinion polls.

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