Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference
May 31st, 2014
03:43 PM ET
6 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. No matter if the Republicans take the Senate and the House.....nothing will get done. It will be BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI all the time 24/7!

    No matter if the Republicans take the Senate and the House.....nothing will get done. It will be BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI all the time 24/7!

    May 31, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Smitty

    I hope so just to get Reid out of the way of congress.

    May 31, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Tom

    Right. The conservative partisans are never wrong - just ask President Romney! Seriously, this is nothing more than Republican cheerleading. Will CNN give the same coverage to a Democrat who declares Democrats will hold the Senate?

    May 31, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Tommy G

    No matter if the Republicans take the Senate and the House.....nothing will get done.
    --–

    What's getting done with Obama in the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate? NOTHING. Just ask the veterans being mistreated at the VA. Out with incompetent, corrupt, lying Democrats.

    May 31, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Gunderson

    Uh, Well,
    The Obama Administration has been a ALL TALK AND NO ACTION bunch of Keystone Cops. Polls say the people are fed up.

    May 31, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. drake mallard

    The Tea Party and other extremists are destroying the GOP, and
    permanently stripping it of any credibility in the minds of thinking
    people. In 10 years time, provided they don't get us all killed, we'll
    be wondering how anyone could ever buy such a bill of spoiled goods.

    Um, Ted Cruz's father was not American at the time of his birth. He was Cuban. That's right... who happily fought alongside Fidel Castro as a teen TED CRUZ's FATHER IS A CUBAN. Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, told NPR that though he came to the country legally, he essentially bribed an official to get out of Cuba so he could come over.In an interview near his home outside Dallas, the elder Cruz says that as a teenager, he fought alongside Fidel Castro’s forces to overthrow Cuba’s U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. He was caught by Batista’s forces, he says, and jailed and beaten before being released. It was 1957, and Cruz decided to get out of Cuba by applying to the University of Texas. Upon being admitted, he adds, he got a four-year student visa at the U.S. Consulate in Havana. And his mother was an American. And he was born in Calgary Alberta. I don't know how having a Cuban father makes you more American than Obama somehow.

    May 31, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. SBP

    I bet he is as convinced as most conservatives were in 2012. Ha.

    May 31, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Donna

    Democrats controlled the Senate and House 2007 & 2008. Lead us right into a major recession.

    Obama took over in 2009 along with a Democrat controlled House and Senate. Complete Democrat control for two years. What did we get? A trillion dollar giveaway of borrowed money to Democrat boondoogles, Obamacare jammed down our throats, record unemployment, record people on food stamps, no jobs.

    Republicans take the House in 2010 after the American people issue a Restraining Order on Obama, Reid and Pelosi. The economy starts to turn around a little.

    2012-13 Obama is re-elected after lying to the American people about Obamacare and Benghazi. The truth comes out and his ratings plummet. Liar of the Year is awarded to Obama. IRS targeting Obama's political opponents, VA killing vets with denial of treatment, Obama turns the USA into a laughing stock around the world.

    2014. The American people will issue their judgement. Bye-Bye Democrats. Enough is enough.

    May 31, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Chris-E...al

    I know Cruz thinks out of the box ? So ? But he does have more than 3 direct family members that live in u.s.a. bahahahahaha bahahaha .

    May 31, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. truth hurts but reality bites

    If Democrats retain control of the Senate in 2014, it will prove that this country is hell bent on self destruction and refuses to learn from its mistakes. I fear the leftist union thug mentality is permeating the entire country in the form of government payola. Taxpayer money being used to buy votes in massive numbers. Laws broken or disregarded to buy votes in massive numbers. Our country and its citizenship being sold out for political gain.

    May 31, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Babyboomer

    That's not going to happen. There are too many of us absolutely scared to death of that. That's what will bring Democrats and Independent to the polls in November. We need to survive and we know we can't do that with people like Cruz in control of anything. We will retain the Senate in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016. Just ask Presidents McCain and Romney....

    May 31, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Red States Unite

    9 Democrat Senators from RED STATES!! Get rid of ALL of them!! Why are you red states voting for Democrats that unite with their far left party and wreck your state with liberal federal mandates and policies?! Look at West Virginia and Kentucky. Obama and the Democrats want to totally destroy the coal industry. None of those states should EVER elect a Democrat. WAKE UP!! FLUSH ALL RED STATE DEMOCRATS!!

    May 31, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Todd

    Without gerrymandering Republicans would have no power or voice in the world of today. America has changed for the better and we are advancing without them. Ask somebody outside of FOX news what the Republican brand stands for and you'd get a negative reality check.

    May 31, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    I just made a contribution to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And will continue to do so. Dems aren't perfect, but at least they haven't spent the last 6 years obstructing the will of the American people, who elected President Obama TWICE, retained a Senate majority in 2012 and cast 1.4 more votes in the House for Dems than repub/tea bags.

    May 31, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @truth hurts but reality bites: You're a paranoid RWNJ who can't handle the REALITY that your policies are all proven failures and that there's a black man in the White House who's lead our nation back from the brink of economic ruin in spite of everything you and your political allies have done.

    May 31, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Red States Unite: Start paying your fair share, reds. You take more in federal money than you give and we're CONSTANTLY bailing you out.

    May 31, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Ted Cruz? The guy who was born in Canada of an American-citizen mother and Cuban-citizen father who MAYBE has gotten around to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen? The guy who thinks his base is so dumb and full of hatred that they'll keep giving him money for his supposed presidential campaign?

    SUCKERS!

    May 31, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. it must be said

    Todd
    Without gerrymandering Republicans would have no power or voice in the world of today. America has changed for the better and we are advancing without them. Ask somebody outside of FOX news what the Republican brand stands for and you'd get a negative reality check.
    --

    Without Democrat affirmative action gerrymandering there would be very few minority representatives in the House. Are you willing to settle for that reality? I can guarantee you the Black Congressional Caucus would be holding their meetings in a small booth at the coffee shop.

    May 31, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. Marie MD

    Two things about the Canadian terrorist.
    One, he's nuts and two rafaelito was BORN IN CANADA!!!!!
    Not presidential material even if he was a real American.

    May 31, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Donna: Your post, as usual, is full of lies.

    "Democrats controlled the Senate and House 2007 & 2008. Lead us right into a major recession."

    "Obama took over in 2009 along with a Democrat controlled House and Senate. Complete Democrat control for two years." LIE!

    The Democrats had a 60-vote majority in the Senate starting in July 2009 (when Coleman finally conceded to Franken). When Franken was sworn in, Senator Byrd has just left the hospital after a 6-week stay and Senator Ted Kennedy was suffering from a brain tumor. When Kennedy passed away, Scott Brown won the special election and was sworn in Feb. 4, 2010.

    So for only 7 MONTHS the Democrats had a filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate majority. And every waking minute since the GOP has been obstructing President Obama and the Democrats in their efforts to help our country.

    " What did we get? A trillion dollar giveaway of borrowed money to Democrat boondoogles, Obamacare jammed down our throats, record unemployment, record people on food stamps, no jobs."

    LIE! The source of that debt was Bush's two unfunded wars, and unfunded Medicare Part D. Obamacare was debated for A YEAR. And passed by representatives of the majority of Americans. What do you have against representative democracy, Donna?

    "Republicans take the House in 2010 after the American people issue a Restraining Order on Obama, Reid and Pelosi. The economy starts to turn around a little."

    LIE! The economy started to turn around because of President Obama's economic policies. The gop's economic policies are what tanked the global economy in the first place.

    "2012-13 Obama is re-elected after lying to the American people about Obamacare and Benghazi. The truth comes out and his ratings plummet."

    Your beef is with the INSURANCE COMPANIES who were offering crappy policies and priced the replacement policies per free-market principles. What do you have against capitalism, Donna? Benghazi? 9 hearings, a 100 hearings: You'll never believe anything that doesn't fit your hate-filled, ignorant ideology.

    "Liar of the Year is awarded to Obama. IRS targeting Obama's political opponents" Progressive groups were profiled, too, by a local IRS group that bungled the handling of the huge upsurge of "charitable" groups in the wake of Citizens United. And if you're looking for Liars of the Year, go snuggle with the half-gov from Alaska – she started it all (and the award has gone to more repubs than Dems).

    "VA killing vets with denial of treatment," Started decades ago – why didn't BUSH do something about it? What about CONGRESS in GENERAL doing something about it?

    'Obama turns the USA into a laughing stock around the world." According to whom? The biggest Dick Cheney? We have actual dialog and cooperation with the international community, unlike dick and Bush's arrogant swagger.

    "2014. The American people will issue their judgement. Bye-Bye Democrats. Enough is enough."

    In your dreams, Donna, in your hate-filled, fever-brain-damaged dreams.

    May 31, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Shouldn't that banner read "Adelson Bum-Kissing Conference"?

    May 31, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. Andrew

    I just love the way Cruz and fellow morons keep pretending they care about BANKRUPTING their children and grandchildrew, but don't give a DAMN about what condition they leave planet EARTH for them. Can you say "Climate change denial'?

    May 31, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. oneSTARman

    Karl Rove was CERTAIN that Romney was going to Win – Even after the race was called for Obama
    The GOP / Tea Party / Neo-Con / KKK are so 'Reality Challenged' they think REAL Americans don't HATE them.

    May 31, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  24. don in albuquerque

    Tommy G
    Ah come on and tell us what you really think. But somehow I don't believe thinking has much to do with it.

    May 31, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  25. oneSTARman

    Karl Rove was CERTAIN that Romney was going to Win – Even after the race was called for Obama
    The GOP / Tea Party / Neo-Con / K K K are so 'Reality Challenged' they think REAL Americans don't HATE them

    May 31, 2014 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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