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. Peter Gerdeman

    Cruz could wind up being the party nominee for President. But, then he would have NO chance of beating ANY Democrat candidate. ANY. It is not the first time 'pubs have gone down this road. These Tea Baggers are just an extension of those Buchananites from the 70's. And he didn't even get his party's nomination. After spending $4B between McCain and Romney, sure, why not spend another $3-4B on another loser. The economy can always use it. You're better off moving to Texas, and joining Perry, et al (as well as Cruz), and suceed from the nation. Bunch of losers...

    May 31, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  2. Tony

    Ted Cruz may have won the straw poll, but I see on the picture that he is not wearing a American Flag pin. I think if there was some vetting going on, his Long-form Birth Certificate would say he is from France!

    May 31, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  3. rl

    Please, please nominate Cruz. That will be lots of fun to watch the republicon/TB party fall apart right before our eyes. We could also send someone looking for his Canadian Birth Certificate, and maybe even tie up the SCOTUS with is it legal to have dual citizenship and renounce one and still be considered a citizen? Canada, is really a foreign country, Hawaii is not.

    May 31, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  4. s

    Where are the Birthers and what is Donald Trumps opinion of this?

    May 31, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. OrygunDuck

    Ted Cruz is against a lot of things, but what is he in favor of??

    May 31, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. norman ravitch

    Cruz is at one with Bush and the Zionist-evangelical lobby in wanting to rule the world. He is no conservative.

    May 31, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  7. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Positive proof that the educational system in the nation is broken beyond repair. The adult population is completely bat guano if they allow crazies like this access to power.

    May 31, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  8. cadawn

    Cruz and buddies shut down the government which cost us taxpayers 24 BILLION dollars. Now they name him at the top of the straw poll??
    He needs to go back to Canada.

    May 31, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. StellaOne

    Ted Cruz will never be POTUS. He couldn't even muster up enough political courage to endorse his senate partner, Sen John Cornyn, for reelection this year. He is a divider, just like Obama. Lord knows we don't need anymore of that!

    May 31, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. foundstar

    Love reading all the repugnants comments..bottom line....The mere fact that you all vote for this egotistical pandering blowhard phony explains everything...Ignorance is bliss....

    May 31, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. Paul Williamson

    It is a Democrat and Independent dream!! Five right-wing wackos are the best the Republicans can offer? If you added up all 5 of their IQs you could not get to 100! The Republic will be saved once again from the Neanderthals.

    May 31, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  12. smith1

    the republican party is the party of crazies and fools. Please vote them all out. Cruz is a nut job . Why isn/t anyone asking about his citizenship????? The repos will take us right back into a recession while they give their rich crone's another tax break. The VA should have been funded but repos blocked the last 19 bills that called for more Va funding . Just like they blocked the funding that would have increased staff at our embassies ,

    May 31, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. DAG

    Liberals Fear Ted Cruz!

    May 31, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. judith

    I hope the nominate the dreadful Cruz. Hillary or any other Democratic nominee would win in a landslide. Cruz would be the death knell of the current GOP.

    May 31, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Not sure what your definition of "advancing" is. We are advancing toward fascism and Marxist ideology. Obama is flooding the country with poor Hispanics to elect a new people. Don't want to hear the crying when your country turns into Central America. This land mass of the u.s. Is not magic. If you fill it with Central American Hispanics you get Central American culture. The u.s. As we knew it is gone and you won't like the world you get. If you liberals think that you can just plug any human into the u.s. And get the same outcome of high achievement and wealth creation, you are in dream world. Europeans built the world you liberals enjoy and it will crumble when your new people replace us. The new brown majority won't be so nice to you white liberals. Demographics is destiny.

    May 31, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  16. polite centrist

    Sorry, GOP, but you can't win the White House without Moderates. We rarely vote for extremists, right or left, but we do vote.

    May 31, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  17. NameCharles

    Good for him

    May 31, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  18. mark

    Let's see his birth certificate.

    May 31, 2014 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  19. jnnrd54surroundedbylibs

    The perfect presidential ticket- Ted Cruz and Ben Carson or Ben Carson & Ted Cruz. What a dynamite ticket that would be!!!!!!!! Neither one needs a teleprompter to talk.

    May 31, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. Mike

    Cruz is a Tea Party darling, that's reason enough for him to get my vote for President of the United States!

    May 31, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  21. charcharcit

    I for one hope that Cruz wins the Republican nomination. It will guarantee a Clinton victory and will destroy the Tea Party once and for all.

    May 31, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  22. dj jdepz

    INo more senators for Pres., govern a state, show progress in what you've accomplished and then run. We've wasted enough years. Ideas and rhetoric can motivate but deeds show what one is capable of.

    May 31, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. mchildre

    OMG, bring him one....'nuff said.

    May 31, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  24. Marie

    Get rid of the Rinos, and as many Dems as possible before they totally destroy the country. Illegals are running over the border in droves. Obamacare sucks and will become another VA. Vets aren't treated by the VA. Black gangs are beating people for fun. Obama is planning Cap and Trade which will drive energy prices through the roof. Common Core is being used to dumb down our children. The economy is shrinking. Millions of people cannot find jobs and our work participation numbers are the lowest since 1977 when Carter was president. Dems vote multiple times and even the dead vote. And the list of destruction by Dems goes on and on.

    May 31, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  25. john

    That, had to be a bamboo straw poll from the bottom of the toilet!

    May 31, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
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