Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference
May 31st, 2014
03:43 PM ET
3 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. AJ

    If America has changed for the better, why do we have over 11 million people defying our laws, over 50 million on food stamps, horrible relations with our former allies and over 20% real employment which will get worse as many companies are scaling down or closing? We have thousand of young people being killed overseas which are not being reported and those who come home wounded are treated by a criminally negligent VA. Whatever you are smoking Todd, it's time to quit and face reality

    May 31, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. Robert

    Only a communist would label a Tea Party member as an 'extremist'.

    May 31, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. Kim

    YES!! YES!! YES!! I have a really good feeling about Ted Cruz! CRUZ 2016!

    May 31, 2014 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. J Bauer

    Good, Ted Cruz would make a great president.

    May 31, 2014 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. thejerkstore

    Can we just secede from one another and be done with it? Red with red, blue with blue, two different presidents, two houses, rules set up so no infiltration can occur, ie red always conservative, blue liberal. We'll trade with one another, love each other, heck even visit one another but this marriage is clearly not working. Think of the kids. It's better this way. Liberals get what the want, conservatives what they want, everybody is happy. We both know this is coming, let's get this party started and see who survives. It'll be fun, wheee!!!

    May 31, 2014 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  6. Scott

    The Republican Leadership Conference is a oxymoron. No new policy proposals to build infrastructure and reform spending priorities with some sensible ideas came out of it. The big winner was Hillary Clinton, not some inexperienced gadfly named Ted Cruz. I am surprised that not so many of these people supported Rand Paul.

    May 31, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  7. Shannon

    @Donna

    "Democrats controlled the Senate and House 2007 & 2008."

    I'm sorry were Democrats responsible for starting 2 wars, handing out an unfunded prescription drug benefit, dolling out the first ever wartime tax break for the wealthiest individuals in US history?!! Also, who was the driving force behind the deregulation of the banking industry that allowed them to begin trading in equities and other financial instruments.

    I sincerely hope republicans try to run on a revisionist platform and no real agenda to fix anything. Bring on Ted Cruz. He's a clown.

    May 31, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. RichardSRussell

    Somewhere in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, people are jumping up and down and high-fiving in glee and delight. They'd like nothing better than to have Ted Cruz to run against in 2016. The guy's a walking editorial cartoon of himself.

    May 31, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. Mike Benton

    Go Cruz.

    May 31, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. Spuds Mackenzie

    Well, we all now the Conference attendees are a bunch of idiots, but now we now that 30.33% of them are extreme idiots!

    May 31, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  11. Mike Benton

    Todd, you are nuts. But have a nice day.

    May 31, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. jim

    LOL. So basically the GOP will lose the next pres election.

    May 31, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  13. Tony D

    The best that the GOP can do for their pick to be an American President is from Canada and not an American?
    Where are the "birther's" now?? How sad for them to have to look outside the country. Show's the republican party has no good American's to run the country. This is not a surprise given their job performance over the last 6 years.

    May 31, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  14. PK

    Not bad considering he's foreign born and ineligible. We either are a nation of laws that apply for everyone, or its just anarchy.

    Obama was not illegible, obama has dual citizenship by birth, but Cruz wasn't even BORN in AMERICA. thats a done deal there. Im sure he will serve well in congress, i think they should give Boehners job to him... either or he cannot serve as POTUS.

    May 31, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. Jeremy

    There are only Red-state Democraps because of colored people.

    May 31, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  16. captcaps

    Ted Cruz no brain, no direction, no class, no agenda,NOOOOOOOOO Way, no chance....Good For The Democrat Cause...Republicans Will Loose the House , Senate ,and the Presidency....It's not about Bengazi its about the Death of the Middle Class at the hands of The Republican Right Reich ...Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    May 31, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  17. txkreddog

    Democrats are "whistling past the graveyard" concerning the next election, and may be in for a great surprise in 2016. If the country doesn't rid itself of the arrogant, corrupt, anti-American thugs and thieves in both the Republican and Democrat parties, it will deserve the third-world status it is currently heading for.

    May 31, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  18. ljfa

    His wife is Goldman Saks and CFR!!! This guy is the latest charlatan from the globalists. They know we know the game is rigged. Rand Paul is our best hope short of revolution.

    May 31, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  19. flynn

    Ted Cruz is brilliant, smartest student Allen Dershowitz said he'd ever had. Dems are scared to death of him for good reason, he's a winner and unlike democrats he loves this country and everything it used to stand for before our gangsta govt took over. Cruz is on a mission to correct the degenerate politics of today.

    Cruz Carson 2016

    May 31, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  20. will

    Joke of the Day, and the Joke is on the Republican party!

    May 31, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. waco liberal obama

    Koo koo koo koo hussein obama non american cant wait until 2016 anybody but the liar and chief. Hell daffy duck could due less damage then this kook

    May 31, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. barb'sbarb

    I live in Texas and I wouldn't vote for Cruz for any reason or any position.

    By the way, with his parents' connections to the oil industry why do you suppose he's a GOP favorite? Ah, all those petrol dollars pouring into the campaign coffers.....

    May 31, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. Robert N. constant

    Green Eggs and Ham, close down the government, Ted Cruz, as Republican presidential nominee would be a Godsend to the Democrats. The fact that he campaigned for the Senate claiming that his father escaped Castro's Communist Cuba, when his father actually fought for Castro, deserted, and then bribed his way out of Cuba will be an albatross hung around his neck.
    That he has opposed Immigration Reform, when he himself is as close to needing a green card as one can get and still technically be able to claim American citizenship will not be lost on those American of Hispanic origin who view him as a Judas Goat.
    Finally the recklessness with which he helped close down the government and nearly cause the United states to default on its debt will cause even conservative Americans who believe we should all pay our bills to shun him. Ted Cruz is a not ready for prime time pimple on the posterior of progress. If he were not dangerous he could be considered a joke.

    May 31, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  24. the3ddi3

    I love the hysterics Cruz provokes in libs. It's so fun to watch. FOX... Teaparty... Cuba.. WAAA WAAA WAAA.

    May 31, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. john pickett

    lets see Cruz solve global warming

    May 31, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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