Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference
May 31st, 2014
03:43 PM ET
7 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. Dallas329

    Ted "Joe McCarthy" Cruz...the gift from the far right the keeps on giving. Trying to shut the government down to implode it on the average tax payer and reading Green Eggs and Ham makes him a hero to the extremists....good grief. Get serious, find an experienced, pragmatic, coalition building leader that can move the country forward and inspire the majority if you want the GOP to have a real shot at winning the next election.

    June 1, 2014 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  2. Another Benghazi

    To all these tea partiers out there, what does Calcutta India, Jeddah Saudi Arabia, Istanbul Turkey have in common? These places, along with 10 others incidents, were US Embassy attacks during your lord and savior GW Bush was in office. Where is the outrage for those attacks?

    June 1, 2014 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  3. Getoverit

    @Donna

    Nice!

    June 1, 2014 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  4. me

    Im a democrat, and I would definately vote for Dr Carson. I have followed his career for 20 years and would love to see him as president

    June 1, 2014 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  5. Straw Poller

    Just when you thought the GOP was trying to distance themselves from the nutjobs, they pick this person of questionable nationality? Finally the birthers may have a real target!

    June 1, 2014 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  6. Steve Fielder

    I'm begging you, Republicans, Oh, please, Please, PLEASE be stupid enough to nominate this reincarnation of Joe McCarthy as your 2016 presidential candidate.

    That way, we can all gather together as a nation and watch Hillary Clinton take him apart in a presidential debate. Hell, even Joe Biden would make mincemeat out of Ted Cruz in a face-off....

    June 1, 2014 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  7. stevetall

    So many idiots, so little time. Cruz is about fear. He, and all Republicans are afraid of a lot of things, but mostly they're afraid of the modern age making them obsolete. The country is getting bluer by the day because the Republican hand-outs to the wealthy and the corporate weasels have become obscene. First, they destroyed the economy with Bush giving tax breaks that we couldn't afford while lying us into two wars that we couldn't afford. Get used to it. Most people are liberal, as they should be. The liberal motto is, "Live and let live, until someone tries to take unfair advantage, then do something." The Republicans encourage the unfair to take advantage of the rest of us, so get used to being out of business. We've been plooked so hard by those that 'have' at he expense of those who "have not", and it's disgustingly unfair. Just look at the crap some of these people have posted. They think Obama is bad because he wants healthcare reform. The rest of us think Bush was bad because he gutted our economy, spent $5 trillion on fake war, and handed out money to those who need it least. Who needs Republicans? Certainly not the thinking people.

    June 1, 2014 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  8. kols

    Democrats did NOT control Congress for two years. they had 7 months because of Ted Kennedy's death and because Norm Coleman protesting Al Franken's win.
    The reason nothing gets done is because we have too many Republicans that refuse to compromise on ANYTHING. In the past this country was able to move forward because Republicans and Democrats knew how to compromise. My way or the highway will get you nowhere. In this environment is no surprise that the public holds Congress in very low esteem.
    Plus we have this huge problem of no control over how much big political donors can donate to campaigns and are able to hide where the contributions come from. We need to know whose behind the money in order to find out their motive for donating. It is obvious they have a vested interest in who gets elected while the voters are nothing to these politicians. They ONLY time they are interested in what we the people want is election time when they want our votes. Otherwise, it's all about the big donors and giving them everything they want. $$$$$$
    In this environment it is pointless for small donors to give any money because we don't have the clout compared to the big monied people.

    June 1, 2014 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  9. kols

    You would have to be an outright dunce not to know why Congress does nothing. It's because they refuse to compromise.

    June 1, 2014 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  10. Jose Gonzalez

    Well, there certainly seems to be a lot of negative comments about Senator Cruz from the God is dead party. Realize this. Well into Obama's second term The USA is still suffering. Record jobless, record numbers on government assistance, record fuel prices and an economy held together with spit and paste. The Fed keeps printing money and we keep borrowing to pay the bills. The people that you hate so much are getting richer and the poor have been left in the rubble. Your socialist dream is about to vaporize with the coming elections because mainstream America has had it with you.

    June 1, 2014 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  11. The Analyst

    This is how STUPID these Republican'ts are: Ted Cruz was born in Canada and CAN NEVER BE president. Duh!

    June 1, 2014 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  12. Mel Stricker

    How do Republicans reconcile that Cruz is NOT an American. After all the BS over President Obama and his birth credentials the Republicans are OK with Cruz, especially since we all know he is NOT American? Republicans are either hypocritical or racist (or both).

    June 1, 2014 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  13. makemydaypunk

    Go Ted... Lets first win-back the Senate in November and then *IMPEACH* both BHO and his "side-kick holder for dereliction-of-duty!!! Then we go and get the W/H back in 2016 and make this nation great again and respected around the world like we used to be!! Right now most countries and world leaders think that BHO is a "JOKE" – and they are right!!!

    PS: And NO amnesty for ALL these illegal invaders who intentionally broke OUR nations Immigration Laws and sovereign borders – deport them ALL back out of OUR country!!! What other country in the world would entertain ALL this "crap"???

    June 1, 2014 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  14. JACK

    America has not "changed for the better" – unless you're a communist. only a real moron would claim that

    June 1, 2014 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  15. Name

    Cruz can't be President. Why does this matter?

    June 1, 2014 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  16. The Analyst

    Certainly got some small brained Beck Borg posting here... With the repug rewrite of the Senate majority rules, and the repug controlled Do Nothing House, its no wonder nothing gets done. It's not for lack of trying. When you compare Li'l Georgie Stupid's 2.1 TRILLION dollar deficit per year with war items included, bleeding 700,000 jobs per month, it is a miracle that the deficit per annum has been reduced to 500 billion and we are seeing over 100,000 jobs created on average per month. Now imagine if we had a house that did THE PEOPLE'S bidding instead of the Koch brothers' – We know that the repugs have led the effort to emasculate the IRS. With over 500 BILLION in Corporate and Personal taxes not being collected from the wealthy, Americans should be aware that the deficit at this point is only present due to willful defiance of the tax code by the rich.

    June 1, 2014 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  17. wayne

    What is funny to me in 2008 and 2012 people said Obama could not be president because he was born in Kenya. How is it now Ted Cruz who actually was born in Canada can become President. I do know the answer to this but I aslo find it funny.

    June 1, 2014 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  18. dualer

    Cruz, like Obama, is not eligible, because he is not a natural born Citizen. Obama is not eligible because his father was a British subject and thus Obama was born British, no matter where birth occurred, or if his mother was a US Citizen. Dual citizenship at birth voids eligibility for POTUS as a natural born Citizen- which is one born free of any foreign allegiance, i.e born in the US of US Citizen parents. Cruz was born in Canada, to a Cuban citizen father, thus is not an eligible natural born Citizen. Rubio and Jindal are also not eligible, since their parents were not US Citizens when the future candidates were born. McCain was born in the PCZ, and is thus ineligible.

    June 1, 2014 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  19. Ed Zachary

    Calling this a Republican Leadership Conference is truly a misnomer. This was really a far right conference and the straw poll in no way is representative of Republicans as a whole.

    June 1, 2014 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  20. Toltec1

    No one knows what will happen. Period. I am independent and have always been. Whichever party gets the most like minded voters to the polls will win. Timing is everything. Which side will induce the best "scare" tactic at the best moment? I wonder who are "we, the people" Mr Cruz speaks of? Only people who think like him and his supporters. Many Cruz supporters say the democrats get votes by promising handouts. I think all parties promise handouts in some way, shape or fashion. Sometime blatant, sometime more insideous. Most vote for those who represent their interests. Peace

    June 1, 2014 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  21. Richard A. Rosich

    GOP Please nominate Ted Cruz in 2016 Dem's win by landslide!

    June 1, 2014 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  22. Tom

    Are the birthers going to have a field day or does citizenship requirement only for the dark skin folks.

    June 1, 2014 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  23. Livefree

    I sure hope ted cruz win the gop nominee for 2016. It would be a pleasure to see gop shoot themselves in the foot lol

    June 1, 2014 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  24. Livefree

    Red states are the ones who have received the most tax money redistribution throu earmarks. So only true debt cuts are from abolishing all together on those bacons.

    June 1, 2014 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  25. Fargin Bastiges

    Previous history dictates that if Ted Cruz wins the straw polls, the Republican's 2016 presidential candidate will be: Mr. Common Core Amnesty, Jeb Bush.
    Gawd help us all.

    June 1, 2014 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
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