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. George Fuller

    Cruz and Santorum both have one parent who was a citizen at birth.......Not eligible
    Rubio, Jindal and Haley were born on U.S. soil to foreigners.......if they are eligible then a child born to martian parents on U.S. soil or any illegal alien born on U.S. soil would be eligible.
    If you are not aware of what a natural Born citizen is a child born to parents(not parent) who are both citizens (not citizen) at the time of birth. Verify by googling the 1814 SCOTUS case VENUS and read about the description given in the SCOTUS.
    If you think Obama is ineligible...and he is.......contact your rep and ask why they never challenged Obama's elgibility.....not once.....but twice.

    June 1, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Marva

    Where are all the "birthers"?! For years all we heard from them was that Obama was not eligible to be POTUS because they believed he was not a natural-born citizen despite a birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii. Now, here's Cruz – who acknowledges he was born in Canada – possibly running for POTUS? Oh, that's right! Cruz is a REPUBLICAN. So, the fact that he's not a "natural-born citizen" is irrelevant!

    June 1, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. TexBill

    It's always interesting to read comments from libs that they hope Cruz in the nominee. Sorry, Commies, it's not going to work this time.

    June 1, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Alina1

    Self proclaimed King Julian does well.

    June 1, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. WhistleBerries

    If this is the best the Republican Party can come up with, there will be a Democrat in the White House for a long time.

    June 1, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. jboh

    More proof GOP is drinking hemlock TEA.

    June 1, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. Donaldbain

    ........and here I was thinking they couldn't possibly go any lower. This is the basement, right??

    June 1, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    The liberal trolls are out ,beware, I heard their stupidity can be contagious so isolate yourselves with knowledge and truths .

    June 1, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. mcquestion5000

    "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."

    Of course they're scared. FOX news and GOP sells scare tactics and boogeymen in shadows and under beds like Democrats sell hope and progressive change for everyone. The problem is, and the advantage for Republicans, is that fear is much easier to sell (Especially to the old, white, fear filled, hyper religious masses) than hope. Everyone is fearful of something, and Cruz and FOX News taps into that and fans those flames, even though the fear has no basis. It's much more difficult to sell hope and optimism.

    June 1, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Oliver Dyer

    So Cruz wins the straw poll, congrats Mr. Cruz. He plays to the crowd he knows like the back of his hand. Unfortunately just like so many of his mind set are long on criticism but short on actual solutions. The list off needless investigations and critics grow. They far exceed congressional actions taken to seriously promote job growth.

    June 1, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. Ribit

    Cruz seems to have hit a nerve with our democrat friends. Good.

    June 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Avenger

    I LOVE the way Ted Cruz drives the commies mad!

    They hate him because he stands for truth and justice, unlike their heros – Obama, Mao, Castro, Stalin.

    June 1, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Waterboard

    The GOP selecting an anchor baby to become POTUS is beyond comprehension.

    June 1, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. jimmy

    these events are only for the tinfoil hat people. once it is actually 2016 the adults will come back into the room.

    June 1, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Kevin M

    Cruz cant run pipe down Tea Party he was born in Canada

    June 1, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. breed7

    Ah Ted Cruz. Please remind me why anyone likes him?

    He's not a Christian - he doesn't believe in helping the poor or caring for the sick.

    He's from an immigrant family, but he thinks dirty Mexicans need to be kept out of the country. He's Hispanic himself, so it's OK.

    He doesn't believe in the U.S. Constitution. Not all men are created equal, according to Ted Cruz. Gays and women shouldn't have rights, he says. Freedom is only for the privileged.

    And his IQ is about that of a fruit fly, although saying that may be offensive to fruit flies.

    But, since the Republican party is the party of selfishness and hate, I guess he's their poster boy.

    June 1, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. jbspryjbspry

    "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%".

    A Cruz/Paul ticket would suit me just fine.
    (Eat my shorts Jeremiah...)

    June 1, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Mike

    WHEW!! Look at all these libbie comments would ya? LOL!! Ya know why they're so uppity? Because they know they're in trouble, that's why. They know that Republicans will keep the House and will most likely gain the Senate. And come 2016, the DimoWits had better stand by cuz what goes around, comes around. Remember that.

    June 1, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Canadian or American? Mr. Trump

    June 1, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. jbspryjbspry

    I say "elect the first Hispanic/African American presidential ticket in American history!"
    I mean, what the hell – that seems to be what sells the moichendise these days...

    June 1, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. DW

    Cruz said, “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.” That's right, your party of right wingers hasn't come up with a viable idea yet, all they can think about is obstruction and holding back the economy. Repeal laws that help the middle class instead of trying to fix them. In my opinion These Tea Party communist are nothing more then rich over reaching gangsters trying to fill their already greedy pockets..

    June 1, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Joyce

    And that is a big deal because?!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. don in albuquerque

    Flechette
    You are so funny!

    June 1, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Dave

    Well I see either/and/or Mother Jones, Wonkette, Salon, etc must have linked here. Check out all the nutjob comments about this guy. Sheesh.

    June 1, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. talon937

    I'm a Ted Cruz fan, but wasn't he born in Canada ?

    June 1, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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