Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may believe that Jeb Bush, one of his likely opponents, will “shatter every fundraising record,” but in an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl just hours after his presidential announcement he said that “on the money side we are going to surprise a whole lot of people,” too.
“The support we are seeing on the money side has been incredible, both small dollar donations that are pouring in, people are going to tedcruz.org, they are contributing right now and we are seeing heavy hitters supporting financially also,” the Republican senator said Monday.
Karl asked if he will be able to “compete with Jeb Bush” and Cruz acknowledged “nobody is going to manage to keep up.”
“He is going to shatter every fundraising record that’s ever been set. He set the goal of $100 million this quarter, my guess is he blows past that goal, he ends up raising way more than $100 million,” Cruz said.
Supporters of Bush have been throwing out that $100 million number, but neither Bush himself, nor his team, have ever admitted to the eye-popping sum.
Cruz said being behind Bush in the money game won’t matter because “elections are actually decided by real live people.”
“What I’m so encouraged by is the enthusiasm we are seeing, particularly in the early primary states, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, people are hungry for someone who will stand up and fight alongside them,” Cruz said.
APPEALING TO MODERATES
Cruz is among the most conservative Republicans who will seek the White House next year and his announcement speech reflected those ideals, including his views on limiting gun control, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage. But, in his interview with Karl, he stressed that he can still appeal to moderate and independent voters.
Cruz said his campaign phrase – in a "nutshell" – is "reigniting the promise of America."
"It's a very simple message, it’s a message of this country, ‘Let’s get back to the Constitution,'" Cruz said describing his pitch to those voters. "My speech today talked about ‘imagine America’ that gets back to the free market principles and the constitutional liberties this country was built on."
THE OBAMA COMPARISON
Cruz's entry into the race has already brought comparisons to another freshman senator who had eyes on the White House: Then-senator and current President Barack Obama.
When asked if he has enough experience to be president, Cruz said: "I’m going to leave that question to the voters," but managed to get in a jab at the president, who he is a notorious critic of.
"I will note, before I was in the Senate I wasn’t simply a community organizer," he said. "I spent five and a half years as the solicitor general of Texas, leading the state, representing the state before the US Supreme Court and we won landmark victories over and over again."
THE ‘IMAGINE’ CAMPAIGN
In his presidential announcement Monday—the first of the cycle—the 44-year-old senator told the crowd to “imagine” a different type of America, one where he is leading. He used the word 38 times in his remarks.
“I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty,’ he said.
Karl asked Cruz if he was a “big John Lennon fan,” mentioning Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine.”
“I am,” Cruz quipped. “I will admit I did kind of envision pulling out some John Lennon little round glasses but I didn’t bring any to the talk.”
ABC's Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.