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. ES

    The dude was born in CANADA. Game over.

    June 1, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. notesonmoney

    Paging Dr Ben Carson!

    June 1, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  3. Starr

    This is just fantastic! Hello President Hillary!

    June 1, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. Richard Miller

    Everyone will be happy when that horrible black man is out of the "white" house. Right boys and girls? America, you have a sick society.

    June 1, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  5. Allon22

    Here's hoping that the GOP is actually rabid enough to nominate Cruz in 2016, ensuring their collapse at the polls everywhere....except maybe Texas.

    June 1, 2014 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. Fred Beloit

    Conor, your axs is a "firebrand."

    June 1, 2014 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  7. texasnotea

    Fantastic news for Dem's. Tea Cruz as the republicon nominee for President of the USA? The Dem'scan run anybody if that happens

    June 1, 2014 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. Bob

    Liberals are either completely brainwashed or brainless. They do not know history. America's capitalist system has brought more wealth and a higher standard of living to more people than any other political system in history. Yet liberals want to transform America into a system that has failed every time it is tried. You tell me who the "thinking people" are?

    After this disaster of the Obama administration liberals still ask for more of the same. Hillary? You have to be retarded to vote for this door mat of a person. A failed secretary of state, a failed first lady and a failed human being. 4 dead Americans on her watch after she turns down requests for more security and her response? "What difference, at this point, does it make?" Anybody who votes for more of the same is just plain hopeless.

    June 1, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox

    So from the land of Birtherstan a Canadian can win a presidential straw poll. And they wonder why we view them as crazy and stupid

    June 1, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  10. Godot

    Of course dumbocrats NEVER gerrymander, ohhhhhh no.

    June 1, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. Joanne

    I cannot believe anyone is still buying that the Dems have helped this country. Six years into this failed administration and you still have the nerve to say we are moving forward? NSA, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS, VA, and the list goes on. All Congress does is investigate scandals. This is the result of failed leadership, or what you get when you hire a community organizer to lead the formerly strongest country in the free world.

    June 1, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. Godot

    So Toddybiy, you already have your DNC approved scapegoat picked out, well pajamaboy, that's what happens when the voters turn your barking seals out of the House. Think you'll be getting the House back soon? I can't HEAR you.

    June 1, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Jim Russell

    Oh my god, my prayers answered. The most self absorbed sand delusional member of the Senate. I say bring him on, PLEASE. He is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

    June 1, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  14. Mike in Texas

    The top five mentioned have zero chance of becoming President. I wonder how many of those who picked Cruz think Obama was born in Kenya and not able to be President but have no problem with Cruz who was in FACT born in Canada.

    June 1, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. Gunderson

    Ted Cruz and others like him know and understand that people, Republican, Democrat, etc, can take care of themselves. That's what the Pilgrims had to do! In the old Soviet Union the State ran everything. In a Democracy the people are in charge. Think about it. Do you want the government in charge of your life?

    June 1, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. Mike Thompson

    This is great news for Democrats.

    June 1, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  17. Chet Benghazi

    The Tea Party cannot be stopped. It is composed of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. It is a frame of mind; tired of Big Government and Socialist policies that have hurt America. We're going on Cruz Control. Run scared, Libs. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

    June 1, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. yoshimoto

    The reason why Obama is a failure is because he is an amateur who never ran anything. Hence the mess Obamacare which when finished, will waste trillions. Why on earth would the GOP support another amateur, Dr. Carson, when the guy has never held office in his life. Has the GOP lost its mind. Speaking of losing your mind, Cruz has never run anything either and he is too far right and will alienate half the voters right out of the gate. You need a successful moderate like Christie or Scott Walker who will appeal to upset Dem voters. The Dems are giving the GOP the election on a platter and as usual, the GOP is going in the totally wrong direction. They might want a Tea Party guy but the REST of the country does not.

    June 1, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. Stop wasting time

    Haha, just what Republicans need!

    June 1, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. John S. Perilloux

    "A conservative Democrat, Landrieu faces a tough re-election this fall ...."

    How can anyone label Mary Landrieu a "conservative"? She has supported the America-hating Obama on most issues, voted for Obamacare and said she would gladly do so again. This is no conservative. This is a liberal who will support the liberal cause even if it means destroying America. Vote her out in November.

    June 1, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. Bill

    Interesting that Dr. Carson would poll a strong second at a convention of supposedly racist folks. Maybe it's not actually race that they object to.

    June 1, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  22. Rick

    Ted Cruz is the only normal thinking politician out there. Anyone who can't understand his simple message is not only ignorant but is slso a complete moron and you ignorant morons are the reason this country is being destroyed

    June 1, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. blancojoe

    Cruz and Carson for 2016. America will finally get a pair. The sacred cow Hillary will finish off America completely by finishing the work begun by Obama eight years earlier.

    June 1, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Joe

    A Ted Cruz presidential nomination would insure a Hillary Clinton presidency. How is the Tea Party so blind that they can't see that?

    June 1, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. rs

    If the GOP goes with Cruz in '16 they are DOA. Really? Do they think the majority of Americans are going to vote for a TEA pot radical whose love for our nation only extends to his desire to crash the government- a move he lead last October?

    June 1, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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