Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference
May 31st, 2014
03:43 PM ET
5 months ago

Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference

(CNN) – Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has won another straw poll, boosting his national profile and elevating his name among potential 2016 presidential contenders.

The firebrand freshman senator and tea party favorite was among a handful of 2016 hopefuls speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this week.

Cruz finished in first place in the annual conference's presidential straw poll at 30.33%. Dr. Ben Carson, a Fox News commentator and conservative activist, finished in second with 29.38% while Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, was third with 10.43%.

Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Governor Rick Perry rounded out the top five, at 5.06% and 4.90%, respectively.

Neither Carson nor Paul spoke at the conference, but their support was a show of confidence by the traditionally more conservative crowd. The annual meeting of activists features of who's who of big-name Republican politicians. It is an important appearance for potential presidential candidates to make.

More moderate Republicans also skipped the conference, but many fared much worse in the straw poll. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in dead last with 1.11% while Florida’s former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Sen. Marco Rubio and came in seventh and eighth at 4.42% and 3.32 %, respectively.

Cruz's address was among the most popular. He was interrupted several times by cheers and standing ovations - especially when he told the crowd he was "convinced" the Republican Party would retake control of Congress in the midterm elections this fall.

Cruz won the Values Voter summit's presidential straw poll last fall, and came in second to Sen. Paul in this year's straw poll at the big Conservative Political Action Conference.

The potential 2016 presidential candidate said that across the country, people tell him that they are scared – of losing their freedom, losing their constitutional rights, and bankrupting their children and grandchildren.

"There is an urgency facing this country – there is an urgency in politics unlike anything we've ever seen," he said, arguing those fears were driving a new movement.

"America is waking up. We are seeing revival, we are seeing renewal, and together – mark my words – we are going to turn this nation around," he said.

Cruz highlighted his past battles with what he regards as the Washington elites, Democrat and Republican, in the fight over drones, gun rights and filibusters. But he cited a "tsunami" of populist power, a wave of grassroots support as the core of those victories.

"Thank you!" he exclaimed to a shout of thanks from the audience. "Nobody cares what any politician in Washington says. Power in politics, sovereignty in America is with we the people, and that is the path to turning this country around, empowering the people."

That wave will unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, and force Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, out, he said to applause and cheers. A conservative Democrat, Landrieu faces a tough re-election this fall, and the crowd of Louisiana Republicans is eager to unseat her and strip the Democrats of their majority status.

Sounding like a candidate on the trail, Gov. Perry took the occasion to tout his record in Texas, on everything from job creation to reducing nitrous oxide emissions.

“The best ideas can be found in the states, where innovative policies get replicated all the time,” said the two-term governor. “And I have never been afraid to borrow good ideas, regardless of where they come from. No political party has a monopoly on good ideas.”

He argued the party should be the same way.

“If we are to win a majority in both houses of Congress and take back the White House, we must again be the party of big ideas,” he added later. “Americans are looking for leadership that transcends partisanship.”

Former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum also gave a passionate speech that called for a return to conservative values and slammed those who would compromise in order to win elections – a veiled swipe he has made before at moderate Republicans, like Gov. Christie.

"The problem with the Republican Party is that we have people in the party who don't believe in the very foundational principles of our party," said Santorum, going on to criticize the party's "moderate" funders, an "expert political class" from "dark-blue communities" in major cities.

"We talk to job creators, not job holders – and ladies and gentlemen, there are a lot more job holders than there are job creators," he said, with a message of economic populism that pushed the GOP to be "pro-growth and pro-worker," not just pro-business.

Santorum finished in ninth place in the straw poll, at 2.37%.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and business magnate Donald Trump were also in attendance at the conference - although none of them were included in the straw poll.

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain also spoke, and even hinted that he may run for president again.

Calling the Obama administration "a period of scandals and a crisis of leadership," the businessman and radio host told the crowd to "stay informed. The stupid people are out-voting us."

At one time the leading candidate in the 2012 Republican field, Cain also pushed back against the notion that Republicans don't reach out to minorities – citing himself as an example.

"What am I, chopped liver?" he exclaimed.

Cain was also not featured in the straw poll.

-CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

soundoff (644 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Give mw Regans "Trickel Down Prosperity" any day over obumers "Trickel-up Poverty"

    June 1, 2014 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. Hugo

    James neeley
    Perhaps you should take a look at who controlled Congress and spending the last two years of Bush's term. While at it take a look at the Clinton repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act before you go running that tired old rhetoric. Obama and Reid have a strangle hold on the Congress and haven't passed a budget in YEARS. Every year has been a trillion dollar deficit with largest ever tax revenues...the dollar is sucking wind and inflation is on the way son, thanks to you Democrats.

    June 1, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. pwinters24

    Dateline: Liberal Network News Reporting The "racist" Republican Leadership Conference held a straw poll for the 2016 Presidential nomination today at their convention in Texas. In no surprise to this reporter, winning the straw poll with 30.33% was Cuban-American Ted Cruz.....uhmmm. Well, in second place with 29.38% was....Dr. Ben Carson an Afric....an American brain surgeon. Sigh....."CUT"

    TAKE TWO: The sexist Republican Leadership Conference, in no surprise to this reporter, continued its "war on women" by voting for two testosterone-fueled males in a Presidential straw poll at their convention in Texas. Forward!

    June 1, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. luvusa

    Like Barry Soetoro, this person is not a natural citizen. His parents were not both US citizens when he was born.

    June 1, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. Winston III

    I can never get over the stupidity of comments from Ted's qualifications to become president to where this country is with a $17 TRILLION debt and yet because he is conservative they ridicule him. The control the federal government has over each and every one of us is becoming more like the days of Hitler some 80 years ago. Most Americans are in complete denial of what is about to happen if there is a significant change soon. We will have lost ALL freedoms we enjoy today, it certainly can happen! Wake up people!

    June 1, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. laborequalszero

    Here is the deal:

    To those who have watched closely since 9/11, Bush has lied. Obama got his chance to "right" the wrongs, and instead he institutionalized them. He lied.

    The people who were right all along, were the Ron Paul voters, and more specifically, the purist plumb line libertarians who made their very last min-archist play for limited government: Ron Paul.

    Now, the whole world knows Republicans, Democrats, Bankers, Military Industrial Complex, Government contractors, and the Media apologists are all in on the Grift.

    So the only acceptable solution is the complete destruction of the government- all government, but especially the US Government. You have to get rid of the institutions that gloss over and "legalize" plunder and murder.

    So straw polls are irrelevant. All of politics is irrelevant. The answer is complete and total civil disobedience and non-compliance. All laws that protect the rich and powerful grifters are void.

    This is the end of government. It is the beginning of liberty.

    June 1, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  7. Sparky2

    What is hilarious about this is that the liberal media thought they had already destroyed Cruz. Now all of a sudden he's back in full force and a true threat to the media's far left agenda. The media succeeded in taking Sarah Palin once they realized she was a serious threat to their agenda as shown by the huge crowds she drew and turned the McCain campaign around .. and of course the media realized what she was doing and began a huge anti-Palin campaign. Whichever republican the media sees may win the GOP nomination, they will start the same attack as they did Palin...and Cruz is already in their sights.

    June 1, 2014 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. America1st

    I bet you the Democrats are even happier about this.

    June 1, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. America1st

    Ted Cruz, please, oh please, run Ted run. And yes, I'm a Democrat. Wow, he would be the gift that keeps on giving.

    June 1, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  10. America1st

    Now we'll have a REAL foreign born person running for higher office.

    June 1, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  11. schukersberg

    I am glad he won. So is Dr. Zues! He's quite a charactor! LMAO!

    June 1, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  12. luvusa

    Addie, Cynthia,etc.

    it's not that hard... If he was born in Canada, he's not a 'Natural Born Citizen.' And if either his mother or father weren't US Citizens when he was born, he is not a 'Natural Born Citizen.' That can never be if any of these conditions existed when he was born. If one of his parents was a US Citizen at the time of his birth, then he could be considered a 'Naturalized Citizen,' which is not the same as 'Natural Born,' which requires the two conditions must be met.

    June 1, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  13. Klondike Cat

    I love Ted Cruz. He is brilliant, conservative, and will turn around the country like Reagan did.

    You know why Ted Cruz is the best? It's because he took on RINOs and beat their butts during the Senate debate and filibuster on 0bamaCare, when just a few men (Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul) did the right thing, even though they were being attacked by democrats and RINOs (like McCain). He put the COUNTRY and the CITIZENS before his self, and that is rare.

    June 1, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. Klondike Cat

    Another thing: Democrats are insanely afraid that Cruz will win the Republican nomination, because they know he will obliterate any Democrat.

    But remember, in reality, a win for Cruz is a win for America.

    June 1, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. dejen3303

    Better a Canadian than a Kenyan. At least the guy was born in North America.

    June 1, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  16. Rowwdy Colt

    Bravo for Cruz. One of the VERY FEW honest politicians we have. The socialists are so afraid of him because he is a no nonsense guy and will not put up with ilk like Reid's crooked tricks. He can whomp and stomp old hag Hillary.

    June 1, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. rick s.

    the negative comments toward ted cruz are typical of leftist/statists/marxists.
    when your argument is weak resort to ad hominem attacks
    the reason they dislike ted cruz is because they despise his embrace of the founding fathers and the country they gave us

    June 1, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. George Blumel

    Dream Team: Cruz/Carson 2016 to restore our freedoms and prosperity

    One can tell from the comments here how much this scares the Dems.

    June 1, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  19. nintex

    To Joanne and others who sneer when they use the term "community organizer" to describe President Obama – it is my firm belief that every politician who runs for office be required to first serve a year as a community organizer to see how a lot of people in this country live – not the millionaires and billionaires, but the normal, everyday people who struggle to survive on two jobs at minimum wage, no health insurance, etc. Then when they are elected, they would understand exactly what needs to be done to insure justice and equality for all, something we definitely don't have now. Don't use "community organizer" as a put-down because we actually need more of them to be elected so as to be in a position to do something positive for people in this country.

    June 1, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
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