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. Ben Ghazi

    Ted Cruz and Ben Ghazi 2016!!!

    June 1, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Jeremiah

    Dear Conservatives,

    My wish list for your 2016 Republican nomination: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and/or Rick Santorum.

    Please arrange accordingly as you see fit.

    Sincerely,

    A Liberal Progressive

    P.s. If you could let Herman Cain and Donald Trump into the debates that would be just swell.

    June 1, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Ted Cruz can't dance salsa !

    June 1, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Keith

    That is one of the most disturbing things to happen in a long time. Cruz is an evil man and hates every thing about our nation that has made us great.

    June 1, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Derp

    Ted Cruz , another authoritarian nightmare in the making. Good luck with that clown.

    June 1, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. ButIDigress

    The kettle's hot.

    Care for TEA?

    - TEA PARTY! –

    June 1, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Derp

    What makes anyone think a man of honor and dignity would be presented anyway, you will all get the same old puppet with no real direction for America , Ted Cruz is the best these idiot 2 party clowns could come up with, give me a break.

    June 1, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. works4me

    Here's one Cruz missile only the Republican Party can program. Most certainly not the American public!!

    June 1, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Heh

    Vote cruz if you want to see our government get drastically worse. Most of this hatred of Obama is absurd. 10 years down the line when the effects of the changes Obama has made will be visible most of you people won't be so hateful.

    June 1, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. ButIDigress

    – TEA PARTY! -

    Clean Houses - November

    Take the White House - 2016

    - TEA PARTY!–

    June 1, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Peter

    Trump was there and didn't ask for Cruz's birth certificate?
    Oh, that's right, we know he was born in Canada!

    June 1, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. ButIDigress

    It appears your app is pre-screening my comments, politicalticker.

    This is in direct conflict with your Rules of Conduct, as set forth in your Terms of Service, to which I agreed in the interest of courteous and lively discussion.

    T part y

    June 1, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. noteasilyswayed

    The extreme right wing of the Republican Party has learned nothing from the last Presidential election.....they have just doubled down on their extremism and thus will be guaranteed to continue to lose Presidential elections in 2016 and beyond.

    June 1, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. MplsMike

    Go ahead Republicans,

    You see how well this worked out for your last Presidential Primary when Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll don't you? Your Primary was a circus – a highly entertaining one, but a circus. It is very unlikely Cruz would receive the party's national nomination because like Bachmann, Santorum, Perry, etc, he is not electable on a national scale. I'm sure he'll run because, Rubio, Paul (Rand, not Ron, who I'm guessing won't run so he doesn't steal his son's thunder) and Cruz can whip the TeaPartiers and Libertarians into their usual anti-Liberal frenzy before the mainstream candidate is chosen.

    June 1, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. ButIDigress

    – TEA PARTY! -

    CRUZ - 2016

    June 1, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Flechette

    All you liberals that can't stand Cruz: Racists!

    June 1, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Vince

    Oh yes, the left hates Cruz. That prove unequivocally that HE is the right man for the job. Run Cruz run!!

    June 1, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. heaven

    newt ginrich is likely to win nomination. .

    June 1, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. ?!?wut?!?

    "Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll"

    More 'straw' for the scarecrow!

    June 1, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Ran Kelvin

    Ted Cruz and Ben Carson would rescue this country in the nick of time. That is why so many communist democrat party apparatchiks are here warning, laughing, cajoling us to not elect Cruz and Carson, it would deprive them of their livelihood as government gangsters.

    June 1, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. PJ

    He is such a fool he makes the GOP look worse than it is. Imagine him being afraid to venture into Boston while living in Cambridge and attending Harvard.

    June 1, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Kaymichigan

    This is the best they can do? Another Tea Party nutball? He won't make it past the first few primaries, just like all the others (Bachmann, Santorum, etc.) Gotta do better than this, guys.

    June 1, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. Vince

    Liberals foaming at the mouth over Ted Cruz is ALL the proof I need to KNOW he is God sent and can save the nation. Thanks libs for providing the confirmation I needed. Now I'm all in for Cruz!

    June 1, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. American Worker

    We must have Leadership that understands that they must be impartial and inclusive in governance.

    A 'Free People's Government' must limit Democracy to selecting Representation at the Local, Community, and District level that fulfill an oath of being impartial and inclusive. With the commitment to protect the People and our National Diversity from being infringed upon by government, businesses, groups, and individuals. And will only allow Laws and Regulations that mitigate the actions of the careless, inconsiderate, malicious, and anti-functional.

    We can only be Free when the People are in Power via Congress, the Executive Branch is Limited to being the impartial and inclusive 'Executor' of our Laws and Regulations, and the Supreme Court assures that the Laws, Regulations, and Enforcement let the People and our National Diversity be.

    Any government that does not protect the personal space and property our our People and Diversity is not one of Freedom or Liberty.

    June 1, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. RealityCheckTech

    Republicans just want to take congress so they can impeach Obama over Benghazi.

    June 1, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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