Liberty University Rand Paul Supporters Crash Ted Cruz's Presidential Announcement With Very Obvious T-Shirts
Ted Cruz announced his bid for the presidency on Monday morning to a roomful of cheering Liberty University students at a convocation ceremony, exhorting conservatives to demand their liberty (clever, Cruz). As a religious institution, the schools holds tri-weekly convocation ceremonies, all of which are mandatory — which means those who didn't want to attend Cruz's announcement event had to do so or risk paying a fine. But some non-Cruz supporters seized the chance to express their support for another potential conservative candidate of their choice as Rand Paul supporters crashed Cruz's presidential announcement in the most awkward of fashions.
Likely less-than-pleased at being required to attend Cruz's announcement — therefore contributing to the perception that Cruz had support in numbers — pro-Paul Liberty students donned bright red "Stand with Rand" shirts and sat directly behind Cruz as he delivered his speech. Cameras focused on the Texas senator also included those hard-to-miss Rand Paul shirts, slightly blurry yet the words still clearly visible, in the picture.
It remains unsure as to whether Cruz noticed them during what was clearly an important event in his political career, having made pains to go through everything from his wave to planting a kiss on his wife during his Sunday practice run. But sharp-eyed Twitter users caught sight of these Paul supporters in the background, and members of the press who covered Cruz's announcement also took notice of them.
Though Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. said that Cruz announcing his presidential bid on campus property did not signal the school's endorsement, some Paul supporters were unhappy about being required to attend the event. Eli McGowan, a 20-year-old junior who spearheaded “Students for Rand” on campus, told BuzzFeed News:
We were upset about it. All students who live on campus, so over 7,000 are required to attend or have a $10 fine. We know that Ted Cruz knows this and it’s a smart idea to have a captive audience to announce your campaign. To have 10,000 people show up. Most students take this a tacit endorsement. People on Facebook have been saying oh the board wouldn’t have allowed him to come if they didn’t think he was the right candidate.
Then, some students took to social media to express their opposition on similar grounds.
So, the nation now has its first major presidential candidate in the Tea Party senator who will no doubt angle his position toward ultra-conservative Republicans. But if the incident at Cruz's announcement is any indication at all, Paul — should he decide to run — will have strength in supporters who will most likely give the Texas Tea Partier a run for his money.