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. clyde

    please nominate Cruz. just wat us real americans want. another dwm in WH

    June 1, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. DJ

    The politics of fear and obstructionism wins again!

    June 1, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. Juergen

    I try to vote 'for' candidates, not against. I'd have to vote against Cruz and the other dip wads he associates with.

    Still plenty of time for the Rebubs to come up with a good candidate. Oooooops. Sorry for the oxymoron.

    June 1, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. early cuyler

    Those who are trying to put forth the idea that the dems are excited about the prospect of Ted Cruz vs. Mrs. Clinton couldn't be more clueless. The left wing political operatives and their comrades in the media may be saying that publicly, but privately they are terrified of a Cruz nomination. On the campaign trail he would not be timid like Romney. In debates, the high-achieving attorney who has successfully argued multiple cases in front of the Supreme Court would eviscerate Mrs. "What difference does it make?" Clinton. Look for her and her party to activate their dirty tricks team. Look for several fake scandals to emerge in hopes of derailing his candidacy before they would have to face him.

    And for those of you who have discovered a newly found desire for a "moderate" candidate, please tell us you didn't vote for Obama, or any democrat for that matter. Moderates have been absent from that party for years now. You either goose-step in sync with the obamas, Reids, Pelosi's, Frankens, Franks, Larry Flynts, Bill Ayers, high school educated Hollywood figures, Bernie Madoff, still un-prosecuted Solyndra executives, and other assorted mainstream democrats, or your political career will get Vince Fostered. And let's not forget who the original birthers were - Mr. and Mrs. Bill Clinton.

    June 1, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. smithdp

    Do you think these people realize that if we "turn this country around" we would be heading back in the direction of 750,000 jobs lost a month, increasing annual deficits and the worst Recession since the Great Depression". They don't call them low information voters for nothing.

    June 1, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Ice2424

    I say nominate him NOW!! As an independent, this would guarantee a Democratic vote from me.

    June 1, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Tim

    This is the ideal Republican choice...for the Democrat party to win hands down next election.

    June 1, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Htos1

    Kinda stupid to believe the elections aren't already stolen.
    It will be Jeb Bush/Rubio(to fool people into believing gop will allow amnesty) to lose to billary/unnamed black candidate.

    June 1, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Rememberwhatbushdid

    The poor GOP. Infiltrated by the American Taliban...ridiculous religious extremists who want to control the rights of others while preaching anti-government slogans. The GOP is not to be pitied, but viewed now as a dangerous, destructive, obstructionist band of thugs. Ted Cruz. Might as well nominated Ted Nugent. Same thing.

    June 1, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. C sense

    I imagine he will continue to win just like Ron Paul did, however I don't for one second think the party establishment will put anyone other than their good ol' boy pick (most likely pukeabee). Too many hidden back door deals in the works for them to risk. Which in turn is why they won't win ... again.

    June 1, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. sam

    Cruz, Paul, and Lee are the only real americans left in congress

    June 1, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. focher

    Please, please, pretty please nominated Ted Cruz.

    June 1, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Pander Bear

    Hilarious. Please make him your nominee GOP. Aside from the fact that he isn't eligible, he's bat guano crazy and wouldn't carry a single state in the general. Ben Carson would be a great VP loser candidate as well.

    June 1, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. annebeth66

    Ted Cruz has yet to get his illegal alien status updated from Canada. The man had no idea that he was a Canadian yet he wants to be the US President. Not going to happen.

    June 1, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Paul

    I am pretty conservative but I am sorry there is something extremely fake about Ted Cruz. Rand Paul on the other hand has the libertarian strain we need right now, to take back our privacy.

    June 1, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. alanread1

    I don't care which far-right nut is nominated, so long as he believes the earth is only 6000 years old and the DINOSAURS WERE ON THE ARK. Then we can finally settle this whole EVOLUTION question in the debates!

    June 1, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. jan

    Or all today's news of death and destruction, this is by far the worst.

    June 1, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Diego

    Everyone knows he can't be president because in born in Canada, right?

    June 1, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. carlos

    rafael the Canadian and his Cuban father............what a disgrace to this country

    June 1, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. GarryOwen

    I can't imagine a better out come for liberals.

    June 1, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Oscar Vita

    "A conservative Democrat, Landrieu"
    By what standard is she a Conservative?
    You obviously have created a new definition for that word when used in political terms.
    If she truly were "Conservative" she would not be on her way to the gallows.

    Looks like very bad news for little brother jeb and his backstabbing troll rubio.
    Oh Well, what goes around...as they say.

    June 1, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. cdnjim

    Ted Cruz as the Republican nominee would be amazing! As a nutbar he will provide some of the greatest late-night comedy laughs and since he has no chance of winning outside of teabag enclaves, there is no fear of what he would do should he be elected.

    June 1, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. behaviorquest

    The Republican Party is doomed. If they are really that delusional to think for one minute that someone as nuts as Cruz could possible win a national election. They are making themselves into the laughing stock joke for all educated and insightful people everywhere. Having the majority of ignorant hicks backing you will not cut it on election day. But thanks for making it so easy for Democrats.

    June 1, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. Ted W

    Oh please, please nominate Ted Cruz. It will be so much fun watching him get slaughtered in the presidential election.

    June 1, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Cletus McPhee

    He's Canadian!! He'll never git past the birthers!

    June 1, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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