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. CoolCMo

    The prospect of Cruz at the top of the republican ticket has Democrats and Independents dancing a jig. Maybe Bobby Jindal was slightly off the mark when he said that the republicans had to "stop being the party of stupid". He should have admonished them to "stop being the party of crazy."

    June 1, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. ES

    Cruz is far more of a 'Kenyan' than President Obama!

    June 1, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. agcala

    No wonder why you call yourself Tunnel Rat.

    June 1, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. skytag

    Great. They can run Cruz, then when they lose the election they can spend the next four years blaming the liberal media.

    June 1, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Mark

    Cruz isn't eligible to become president. Where are all the birthers now?

    June 1, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. Bigalmed

    This is fantastic news for the Democrats. No more polarizing person in the Republican party. With him and his father's views he will carry the arch conservative vote and nothing else. Another 4 years of Democratic Presidential rule.

    June 1, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. DaveE

    I wonder what candidates are considered non-extreme by the RINO posters. Do you think Christie could win? How about another Bush. I think most are tired of that "crony" family. I

    June 1, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    This GOP GOOF should just go back to Canada OR Cuba and take his FAKE pastor father with him!!!!!

    June 1, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. tonyb

    He was born to an american mother living in Canada- as was John McCain in Panama. The republican birthed fringe seem to overlook this small problem in their frenzy to "out" President Obama. Cruz is the man....c'mon republicans make him the nominee pleeeese!

    June 1, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. ynotblue

    Lucky we don't use straw polls in Nov 2016.

    June 1, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Bsoretoro

    OVERTHROW OHBUMMERCARE - THE UNAFFORDABLE CARE ACT !!!

    The launch of OhBummerCare - a poisonous gift from Barak Bait-And-Switch OhBummer and his confederacy of thieves. Where are the Republicans?

    They are dithering. They are candles in the wind. They flicker in one direction, and then another - and there are less kind observations now afoot, across the fruited plain.

    The Republicans cannot find their bums, with both hands and a flashlight.

    They keep their cojones locked in a bank vault - although if they were valuable to Republicans, you'd think that they'd take them out for a spin, once in awhile, now wouldn't you?

    When asked how best to destroy the Soviet dictatorship, novelist / Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn replied, "Don't lie." The corollary of that injunction is, "Tell the truth."

    You can keep your plan and your doctor if you want to? You’ll save on average $2,500 per year in premiums?

    Such fraud in private industry would land the perp in jail - and good riddance to him! But OhBummer is armed and dangerous.

    This is a dictatorship, a gangster government, of Barak Bait-And-Switch OhBummer, and the OhBummer Wrecking Crew.

    June 1, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. Lord Toronaga

    I'll take him over "Brain Injury" Clinton. That is so funny. Mr. Rove..Thanks for that great joke. Finally the democrats get a taste of their own tactics. Ridicule.

    June 1, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. ooh yaa

    This is great! The crazier the better. The republicans are a mess and have no chance to take the presidency.

    June 1, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. william roman

    All i know is gas is up in the last 6 yrs, food is sneakily up and Democrats say everything is going to be all right. The President just broke the law,- again; doing things on his own. When the law is not followed – then a revolution is just around the corner. I despise Blue or Red LIARS-current candidates need not apply-new blood with character is needed for a God blessed America

    June 1, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Kenneth Newman

    But is Cruz legally eligible to run for president?????

    June 1, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. LBB

    God help us all!

    June 1, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Fred

    He is not eligible to be President. Born in Canada. Just like Barry is not eligible and is an illegal President

    June 1, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. Fred

    He was born in Calgary, Alberta, on Dec. 22, 1970, to a Cuban-born father, Rafael, and a Delaware-born mother, Eleanor. Both of his parents were in Canada working in the oil industry. They and Cruz moved to Texas, where his parents went to college, when the future senator was 4 years old. Federal law says that people born outside the U.S. to a parent or parents who are citizens and who have lived in the country are considered citizens at birth.

    June 1, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. southerncelt

    Yes, Cruz was born in Calgary to an American Mother, and yes his Father is from Cuba. Isn't this similar to Obama, John McCain and a few other foreign born U.S. citizens? Then again, is Calgary really part of Canada:-)? Haven't we had enough extremists in Congress without putting one in the White House? Where are all the Moderates? Someone that appeals to both sides of fence that can bring some kind of unity to these fractured States?

    June 1, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. Anonymous

    If any of you voted for Obama , you are the problem, do not vote this year as America can not benefit from what you think..I will vote Cruz

    June 1, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. dumbpolitics

    rs
    America is a democracy where all men and woman are created equal. That's the soul of who we are and how we treat each other.
    Plus it's not that I say the red states get more of our federal tax dollars it's a FACT! I don't care who or what you say who makes up these states the red states get more of the federal tax dollars. Who are the takers?

    June 1, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. potzrebie

    Thank you. There is a God after all. The true American patriotic citizens of this country who hate blacks and Hispanics, despise women, have nothing but contempt for the middle class and the poor and who hope the elderly and sick would all just crawl away and die somewhere have taken over the Republican party. Let's hope he actually becomes their nominee.

    June 1, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Phydeaux

    The left hates Cruz because he is a threat to their precious failed Marxism, which the left wants you to believe is not radical, so they go around saying everyone else is. Their nuts.

    June 1, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. steve

    compare the intellect of cruz et al. with that of the community organizer and rose law firm attorney. it is quite a contrast. people who can walk and chew bubble gum versus those that got where they are not on the content of their character but, in one case the color of his skin and the other because of her anatomy. they fit so well into the democrat quota, box checking system.

    June 1, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. RCM

    The first major joke of 2016.

    June 1, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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