Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran Cruz, Graham and Cheney call on Trump to end all nuclear waivers for Iran Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment MORE (R) announced in a Twitter post and video just after midnight that he will officially launch his presidential campaign Monday morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

"I'm running for president and I hope to earn your support," he wrote

The White House presidential hopeful also posted a slick 30-second introductory video that cut from Iowa cornfields to deserts to beaches, saying, "it is going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to lead the fight to help make American great again, and I'm ready to stand with you to lead the fight."

He also released a Spanish-language video that plays up his Cuban roots, touting him as the first Hispanic to clerk for the chief justice of the Supreme Court and to serve as solicitor general in Texas.

"The story of Ted Cruz is the story of many Americans," the ad says.

Cruz, a firebrand conservative who has made a name for himself by challenging GOP leaders, is the first major candidate to formally enter the 2016 race for the White House. He will officially launch a presidential bid, foregoing the step of forming an exploratory committee. 

Cruz is scheduled to speak at a student convocation that begins at 10 a.m. at the evangelical university.

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By announcing his bid first and doing it at a campus within driving distance of Washington, D.C., Cruz will maximize attention from the national media. His campaign team made rounds of calls to reporters on Friday to advertise what they described as a can’t-miss speech. 

There's a symbolic element to the date for the freshman senator too: Cruz’s official campaign rollout will come on the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed on March 23, 2010.

It’s a resonant reminder for the Tea Party star, who jumped into the national spotlight by waging a 21-hour filibuster to protest the law and later led a conservative revolt against its implementation that resulted in a 16-day government shutdown. 

First elected in 2012, Cruz has positioned himself as a conservative gadfly and antagonist of GOP leadership since coming to Washington. Many of his Republican colleagues were upset over the role he played in the fall of 2013, spurring House conservatives to oppose any government funding bill that allowed the implementation of ObamaCare to go forward.

More recently, he criticized Republican leaders for passing a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that failed to reverse Obama’s executive order granting work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. 

He hopes to lock down his party’s conservative base ahead of the first contest of the 2016 primary. His choice of venue at the prominent Christian college founded by the late Jerry Falwell is an early attempt to reach out to conservative values voters. 

Born in Calgary, Canada, in 1970 to a Cuban émigré father and an American citizen mother, Cruz's supporters say he is, nevertheless, eligible to run for president because he was born a U.S. citizen.

He served as Texas’s solicitor general from 2003 to 2008 before waging an insurgent Senate campaign in 2012 against the state’s heavily favored lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, who was backed by the GOP establishment. Cruz ran as a Tea Party conservative and won in a runoff by about 10 percentage points. 

However, the most crowded GOP primary in recent history has far more challenges. In early state polling, Cruz polls in single digits, far behind front-runners former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. 

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from earlier this month showed 40 percent of Republican primary voters said they could envision backing Cruz for president, while 38 percent said they could not.

Cruz’s colleague, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), plans to launch his own presidential campaign on April 7 with a five-state tour beginning in Louisville and then headed to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.

Cruz has made nine trips to Iowa, five to New Hampshire and five to South Carolina since 2012, according to a tally by ABC News.

— Ben Kamisar contributed to this post, which was updated at 7:11 a.m.