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. tbw

    A lot of the anti-Obama noise in this Comments section is fueled by the racism of insecure white males who feel displaced by our African-AMERICAN president.

    June 1, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. dumbpolitics

    To those who might have a problem understanding the law, to be nominated on a ballot for president you have to be born on American soil. Senator McCain was born on a US military base which qualified him to be able to run. George Romney, Mitt's father as we found out in 2012 was born in Mexico even though he tried to run he under the law could not be nominated for the presidency.

    June 1, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. George B

    OMG 2016 is going to be an entertaining train wreck! I'd love to see the Republican party try to succeed with Ted Cruz or Rand Paul on the ticket. Those candidates may appeal to their base but there's no traction with the general electorate.

    June 1, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Eric Richardson

    Anonymous,

    Yes, quite a few of us, citizens that is, voted for Obama. It is called a majority, elected twice. It is your turn to cry.

    June 1, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Heywood Jablome

    Rather than telling us that you think Cruz would be a bad candidate, tell us WHY you think that. Then tell us who you would like to see run.

    June 1, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. BigLouie

    Where are the "birthers" now. They claim that Obama was born in Kenya to an American mother and foreign father and therefore cannot be president. So what about Cruz. Born in a foreign country, Canada, to an American mother and a foreign father.

    June 1, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. fnordz

    ""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."

    No, Rafael. It's nothing new. It's been going off and on for the last few centuries. This is just "politics as usual" and you're just another politician- as usual- making up sh!t to cater to the masses.

    June 1, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. The REAL Truth...

    @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
    ----------------------------------
    Cruz isn't eligible to be POTUS – tho' I don't believe there are any laws that state he can't run for the office. He's not a natural born citizen. According to most legal precedents and current legislation, BOTH parents are required to be US citizens (regardless of birthplace) for offspring to be considered nbc. He's a US Citizen, by right of his mother being American... but he's not eligible for the office of POTUS.

    June 1, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. Straw Poller

    Whether he's eligible to run or be elected is irrelevent. Plus Reps will ignore the matter entirely, even though they made too much of the birther question with our President. Cruz's problems are much worse. He spearheaded the Government shutdown, then denied any part of his role in it later. The other problem is that he is not likeable, at all. He comes across as difficult, dishonest, and conceited. Most politicians have those traits, but are much better at hiding it.

    June 1, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. john pickett

    Maybe some day in the future Republicans will join the rest of the real world & work to help solve problems instead of creating them

    June 1, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Charlotte

    Well it's appropriate to call it a straw poll since that's what his head is filled with, LOL! For some reason there's a song running through my brain..."I could while away the hours, conversin' with the flowers....."

    June 1, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Jackson

    Hypocrites.

    They cry that they are worried about losing their freedom, yet they don't care about anyone else's freedoms.

    June 1, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Patrish

    No way in hell will this guy win. He some of his own party dislikes him. Straw poll all you want – the American people pick middle of the road presidents. Anyone too far to the left or to the right won't fly. I you put Palin with him, it would the funnest thing to watch!

    June 1, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. kevin

    This goes to show what complete clowns the Birthers are.

    June 1, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Bob

    Ted Cruz also won the Dem straw poll in a landslide.

    June 1, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. milt

    Anyone would be better than the idiot in charge now. Worst President in history by far. Can't wait for January 2017!

    June 1, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Truck

    @tbw,using the race card,eh? How bout your boy being a liar,a criminal, a Marxist & a hater of America. Hopey,dopey & chantey. MOONBAT

    June 1, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. ps

    @Heywood...here's 2 electable candidates... John Huntsman and Mitch Daniels... oh, I forgot, they lean towards the center and appeal to moderates and independents...can't have that...so much for the Reagan "big tent"....

    June 1, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. eqgold

    Teabaggers slowly circle the drain.

    June 1, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. happynurse

    ted cruz...lol

    June 1, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. idiotusmaximus

    Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference........

    YAHOOOOO!

    Go Cruz......we liberals love that....didn't know you were on our side.......YAHOOOOOOO!

    June 1, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. ohionick

    Congress is locked in a battle as McConnell, back in 2008, wanted to derail every single idea of the newly-elected Obama. He wished to do whatever it took to stop Obama. Such idiocy is unprecedented and totally unethical.
    With Ted Cruz getting the nod in a crazy straw poll, it only serves to continue building up the hopes of the TP'ers to achieve total and complete rule. The GOP-TP cares nothing about compassion for those less fortunate, and would rather allow babies from the poorer sections of the country to grow up and serve in the military and become fodder for their wars. Of course, when these vets then return home and leave the military, they refuse to support them and have blocked legislation to improve veteran benefits.
    If the GOP were a concerned and compassionate bunch, they could continue being Conservative and be the balance to any Liberal idea via the use of sane, logical and intelligent discussion and debate. We cannot allow a minority faction to rule as we are a majority rule country. We may need a third party to provide a better balance, but until then the only sane answer for a moderately conservative person is to be an Independent. I will continue to be a supporter of Liberal causes since they are meant for everyone and not a precious few. My Liberal companions are much more willing to accept and debate with those from the Conservative side, but in almost all cases, that cannot occur due to the ferocity and disgust and hatred of anything from the Liberal side.

    June 1, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. milt

    We're racist because we dislike Obama, gee that doesn't make sense, isn't Cruz Hispanic?

    June 1, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Sashatree

    Cruz and Cain. Oh please, please, please, please, please, please, please.....with pepperoni on top. PLEASE!!! An easier defeat has never been possible!!!!!

    June 1, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. AbortionProphecy.wordpress.com

    Cruz is the best selection.

    June 1, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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