Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is fueling chatter about his 2016 plans with a speech planned Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
One aide to the likely Republican presidential candidate told The Daily Caller “you’ll want to be there” for the speech but didn’t reveal what Cruz plans to say while appearing at the Christian university founded by the late Jerry Falwell.
When it comes to the 2016 race, Cruz has said publicly he expects the field to form sometime between January and June. That would suggest we’re nearing the point when an announcement from Cruz is expected.
“I’m looking at the race very, very seriously,” Cruz said earlier this year. “And I will tell you — the encouragement, the support we are receiving from the grassroots, all across the country, has been breathtaking.”
Should he enter the race, Cruz is expected to offer himself as a conservative alternative candidate to GOP establishment favorites like Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The Republican senator, elected in 2012, has repeatedly argued that his party needs to nominate a solid conservative to run against the Democratic Party’s candidate in 2016.
“If we present a milquetoast alternative, that is a path to defeat,” Cruz has said. “I agree very much with Ronald Reagan who says we paint not in pale pastels but bold colors. Give a choice and give people a reason to show up and fight and paint.”
In recent weeks and months, Cruz has been traveling to early presidential nominating states and hiring staff for his political operation in Texas.
Behind the scenes, Cruz’s political network has been preparing for a possible campaign, reaching out to donors and early state activists, interviewing potential staff and mapping out electoral strategies so if Cruz “makes that decision to go run, then we’re ready to flip the switch and start pressing forward,” one Cruz insider told TheDC earlier this year.
A skilled orator who prefers to roam around stages like a pastor during speeches rather than stand behind podiums, Cruz is probably best known for the 21 hours and 19 minutes he railed against Obamacare on the Senate floor in 2013.
While a favorite of the conservative grassroots, the Texas senator has also been known to rile up veteran GOP senators in his party. Arizona Sen. John McCain, for example, once referred to Cruz and two other conservatives as “wacko birds.”
If Cruz makes news about his 2016 plans at Liberty on Monday, it will indicate that he is going to make a serious effort to woo Christian conservatives, who make up an important part of the electorate in Iowa’s first in the nation caucuses.
Running as the conservative alternative candidate, Cruz could face competition specifically from other Republicans like Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
The Real Clear Politics polling average in Iowa shows that Cruz will have some work to do: he trails Walker, Huckabee, Paul, Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Santorum in polls conducted in the state right now.