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. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Now that they have been CRUSHED by Turtle McConnell, can't wait to see Thom Tillis,Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Karl Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down.

    June 1, 2014 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  2. SweePee

    He will follow Michelle Bachmann in her swirly path.....

    June 1, 2014 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  3. Desel

    Hillary will run for president in 2016 and WIN! The Republicans know they have no one that can match her. All the do nothing Republicans can do is organize another Benghazi investigation and have straw polls. Ted ( Joe McCarthy) Cruz will never sit in the big chair in the Oval Office.

    June 1, 2014 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Looks like the drunken Republicans have been posting late at night/early in the morning again. It's always good for a laugh in the morning reading the ridiculous posts they leave behind. The Democrats can only hope Crazy Ted get's the nomination.

    June 1, 2014 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  5. BitterEXdemocrackkk

    SO glad that the GOP is recognizing Cruz over all the others!

    Cruz/Cain 2016 ? yep!

    June 1, 2014 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  6. ohreally

    Looks like the drunken Conservatives have been posting late night/early morning again. It's always good for a laugh first thing in the morning. The Democrats can only hope Crazy Ted get's the nominations.

    June 1, 2014 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  7. Leif

    He was born in Canada.

    June 1, 2014 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  8. anonymous

    Ted Cruz was born in Canada to a Canadian father, he can't be president. Why else was Obama hassled for his birth certificate?

    June 1, 2014 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  9. glassbender

    T urd cruz, the head klown of the KKKlown party, move along nothing to see here, same used P.O.S. party

    June 1, 2014 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  10. Scott

    Please nominate Cruz = guaranteed Democrat in the White House for 8 more years.

    June 1, 2014 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  11. SixDegrees

    The Democrates are salivating over the prospects of a Cruz presidential candidacy. They're probably shoveling their own money into his campaign as fast as they can. It'll save them millions down the road, since their campaign will be reduced to simply pointing a finger in Cruz' direction.

    June 1, 2014 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  12. beasten81

    Republicans cow towing to these nut job fringe groups is ruining this country. Lmao for the red states – these hillbillies are taking the biggest suck off the trough, yet they are all concerned that they are paying too much in taxes. You just can't make this stuff up.

    June 1, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  13. Stephen

    It's Christmas in June for Democrats.

    June 1, 2014 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  14. john pickett

    And still no one offered any alternative viable plan to fight global warming , solve the budget crisis,fix health care or any of the myriad problems and issues facing all of us! And not one person or candidate spoke on the bipartisanship it's going to take to get ant work done in Washington. The Republican party continues it's "Just say NO to everything!" policy

    June 1, 2014 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  15. Mike

    Great! The guy can't win in a general election! No matter how moderate he pretends to be!

    June 1, 2014 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  16. dumbpolitics

    Why do all of the red states get more of our federal tax dollars than the blue states do? How about we change that for the next 10 years? Let our federal tax money stay exactly in the state where it was collected. Then we could have a conversation about who does better with their own tax money.

    June 1, 2014 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  17. jessie

    well

    June 1, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  18. Doobie Wah

    President Hillary Clinton.

    June 1, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  19. GODZILLA1

    Yes, Cruz will be the GOP nominee in 2016 and Hillary will carry 40 states and win with over 400 electoral votes. Good times are'a coming!

    June 1, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  20. Adam

    Did you guy know TED CRUZ CAN'T BE PRESIDENT... he was born in canada

    June 1, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  21. orlandocajun

    Cruz, Carson and Paul are 1,2, and 3, so I'm guessing that the GOP establishment will put all of their money behind Jeb Bush or some other RINO of the month. That's why Democrats win elections.

    June 1, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  22. W0X0F

    Cruz can't be president! If your parents had an option of what citizenship to claim for you, you are not Natural Born.

    June 1, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  23. Half Evil D

    At least these straw polls make it easy to tell that Cruz is the most laughable Tea Party member in the GOP today.

    June 1, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  24. Stanton

    What a joke. All those guys are losers. With any of them as candidate, the GOP doesn't stand a chance in 2016.

    June 1, 2014 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  25. Stan

    Some comments here are simply too far left and without merit or facts. Keep on posting lies and you too will be marginalized into oblivion.

    You can't simply get rid of Republicans, you can't be that ridiculous, can you, eh? What do you propose to do with them? You folks remind me of evil movements from years past and what became of those hateful people?

    June 1, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
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