It looks as if Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's decision to make an early leap into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination is beginning to pay off.
Little more than a week after he became the first Republican to formally announce for president, Cruz has suddenly surged in the polls and is hauling in millions of dollars in campaign funds.
What’s more, the darling of the Tea Party and the religious right, can claim another first—the first presidential candidate to begin airing TV ads in the 2016 campaign season. Cruz’s nascent campaign announced on Thursday that it had booked time over this weekend on local affiliates and national cable networks to coincide with the airing of Killing Jesus, a documentary-style adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling book.
Cruz this week opened his presidential campaign headquarters in Houston, in a massive suite on the seventh floor of an office tower with a commanding view of the city, according to The New York Times. On the wall outside Cruz’s office is a large photograph of the junior senator standing at a gun range holding a military-style rifle.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll published Thursday shows Cruz running a close second to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and just ahead of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The survey was taken in the days following Cruz's March 23 announcement at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, a prominent Christian college founded by the late fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.
According to the poll, Bush garnered 20 percent of the vote among likely primary voters, to 13 percent for Cruz and 12 percent for Walker, who made a big splash earlier this year with a stirring speech to grassroots conservative activists in Iowa. Further behind is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 9 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 9 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and physician Ben Carson with 7 percent apiece, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 6 percent.
Cruz, a one-time Bush administration official, is staking out some of the most conservative positions of any of the dozen or so serious GOP contenders. He stood by Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his state’s controversial “religious freedom” law this week while others including Jeb Bush toned down their earlier enthusiasm.
One in three voters interviewed by the Post said they are convinced Bush will win the GOP nomination, according to the poll, although the former Florida governor and brother of former President George W. Bush is having difficulty broadening his base beyond the party’s establishment members. Meanwhile, Cruz and Walker are demonstrating similar strength among voters who describe themselves as somewhat or very conservative.
Cruz’s campaign ad buys suggest that he is flush with cash. During the first eight days since formally entering the race, his campaign has raised $4 million, a good showing for a newly declared candidate.
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