WASHINGTON (AP) -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz became the first high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 U.S. race for president on Monday. Here's a quick snapshot with a few key things to know about Cruz.
Ted Cruz is man in a hurry. He won election to the Senate in 2012 as a political rookie, riding the conservative tea party wave to upset a candidate with decades of experience and deep connections inside the Republican Party. He's proceeded since with the same disregard for the Republican establishment, at times maneuvering quixotically in the Senate to mount an aggressive opposition to President Barack Obama. It's an approach that has annoyed fellow Republicans -- Arizona Sen. John McCain famously labeled Cruz as one of the Senate's "wacko birds" -- but Cruz is unapologetic. As he recently told voters, "If you see a candidate who Washington embraces, run and hide." He even announced his candidacy hours ahead of the planned launch, in a post-midnight Twitter message Monday.
Prior to his election to the Senate, Cruz's career was centered on practicing law at the highest level. A graduate of Harvard Law School and clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, Cruz led a Houston-based firm's Supreme Court practice, taught such litigation at the University of Texas and was charged with representing the state before the high court as its solicitor general. He also served in the George W. Bush administration, at both the Federal Trade Commission and as an associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.
The son of Cuban immigrant and American mother, Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, on Dec. 22, 1970, while his parents were working in the oil business. He's since renounced his Canadian citizenship, and lawyers from both parties have said they think he's eligible to run for president. He and his wife Heidi, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, live in Houston with their two daughters, Caroline and Catherine. His father is now a Texas pastor who draws plenty of his own attention, saying in the past that Obama is a "Marxist" who should be sent "back to Kenya."
CALLING CARD MOMENT
For 21 hours and 19 minutes in September 2013, Cruz stood in the Senate to urge Congress to cut off money for Obama's signature health care law. The marathon speech, which included Cruz reading the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham" to his daughters, said to be watching their father at home, was partly behind a 16-day partial government shutdown the next month. He later joked the speech featured hours of "my favorite sound" -- his own voice.
The tactic was a hit among Cruz's tea party supporters, who are excited by his entry into the 2016 race. Cruz "will excite the base in a way we haven't seen in years," said Amy Kremer, the former head of the Tea Party Express. But Cruz's uncompromising approach has won him few friends in the Senate. In December, when Cruz defied party leaders to force a vote on Obama's executive actions on immigration, he again drew fire.
ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter: http://twitter.com/sentedcruz and http://twitter.com/tedcruz