(REUTERS) — Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand who frequently clashes with leaders of his Republican Party, will become the first major figure from either party to jump into the 2016 U.S. presidential election race on Monday.
Cruz is expected to announce his candidacy at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia, according to an aide, giving the Tea Party favorite a head start on what is likely to be a crowded field of Republican White House contenders.
Cruz, 44, has built a reputation as an unyielding advocate for conservative principles in his two years in the Senate. As a presidential candidate, he is likely to portray himself as the most reliable proponent of small government.
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"We need to look to people who walk the walk and don't just talk the talk," he told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.