Becoming the first major candidate to officially enter the 2016 presidential race, Senator Ted Cruz got off to a rocky start Monday when his campaign message was eclipsed by controversy over his chosen venue. Reason blogger Robby Soave slammed both Cruz and Liberty University for piggybacking his announcement on top of a mandatory convocation assembly.
Liberty president Jerry Falwell responded to the controversy with a statement:
A fundamental part of the college experience is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints so students can better understand why they hold their own beliefs and be better prepared to defend them.
That’s all well and good. But this was not an educational presentation. This was a political rally. As such, it should not have been conflated with mandatory curriculum. One student described the move as “highly deceptive,” in that it conveys to the casual observer that all those in attendance support Cruz’s campaign.
That campaign may well deserve support. If so, it shouldn’t need to rely upon compulsion to secure an audience.