Cruz delivered his roughly half-hour announcement speech at evangelical Liberty University in Virginia. Pacing the stage, he laid out a deeply conservative message and began to introduce the public to his family's backstory.
Using a prompter, which displays the speaker's text on a screen, is standard practice for candidates and politicians at large events.
But Cruz does have a background in speaking off the cuff. As a lawyer, he has argued before the Supreme Court, where justices frequently push litigators away from their prepared text with questions and critiques. Cruz was also on the debate team while at Princeton University.
Conservatives have sometimes tried to use President Obama's reliance on the prompter to paint him a shallow leader who is stronger on rhetoric than on substance.
In his speech Monday morning, the Tea Party favorite promised a campaign that will push for conservative policies like abolishing the IRS, limiting the government's role in education and defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Cruz also spoke about his mother, a computer scientist, and his father, who emigrated from Cuba.
Though the speech marked the official start of the 2016 presidential race, Cruz's strategy is already becoming clear: He will seek to turn out his party's base in large numbers instead of shifting his positions to appeal to moderates.
“Today, roughly half of born-again Christians aren’t voting," he said. "They’re staying home. Imagine instead, millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.”