Ted Cruz announces presidential campaign in midnight tweet

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses the second annual Conservative Policy Summit at the Heritage Foundation January 12, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong, Getty Images

WASHINGTON - Sen. Ted Cruz has become the first major candidate for president with a midnight announcement of his 2016 run for the White House.

"I believe in America and her people," Cruz said in a 30-second video to accompany his tweet. "And I believe we can stand up and restore her promise."

The Texas Republican kicked off what's expected to be a rush over the next few weeks of more than a dozen White House hopefuls into the 2016 campaign.

Cruz will formally get into the race during a morning speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, choosing to begin his campaign at the Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. It's a fitting setting for Cruz, a 44-year-old tea party darling whose father is a pastor.

While Cruz is the first Republican to declare his candidacy, he's all but certain to be followed by several big names in the GOP, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and two Senate colleagues, Kentucky's Rand Paul and Florida's Marco Rubio.