WASHINGTON — It’s no accident that Sen. Ted Cruz chose Liberty University to make his expected presidential announcement on Monday.
Founded by former Southern Baptist pastor and conservative political commentator Jerry Falwell, the university emphasizes traditional conservative Christian values and beliefs.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, is a favorite among conservatives for his positions on both social and fiscal issues.
The school is now a magnet for Republican presidential candidates and politicians, often times during their campaigns as they’re looking to enhance their support among evangelical voters.
Seeking to make amends for derogatory comments made during a 2000 speech, including claiming Falwell to be an “agent of intolerance,” Sen. John McCain visited Liberty as the commencement speaker before his presidential nomination in 2008.
In September 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke during the school’s convocation. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann also addressed the student body later that same month. Both made bids as GOP presidential candidates.
Then-Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, gave the 2012 commencement address to more than 14,000 graduates. Romney, a Mormon, sought to dissuade any concerns Christians had regarding his faith.
Mat Staver, the former dean of the university’s law school, said having such national leaders speak “indicates the importance of Liberty and the impact of our students.”
Cruz, 44, is a first-term senator and the first Latino to represent Texas in the Senate. He made waves back in 2013 when he unrepentantly made efforts to block the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Originally known as Lynchburg Baptist College, the institution was established in 1971 when Falwell challenged his congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, to create a Christian school from which students could “go out in all walks of life to impact this world for God.”
Liberty University is ranked among the top 100 colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 classification of best higher learning institutions.