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. sargeantpepper

    Spare me.

    May 31, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  2. Cr@ckerjack

    Wow.. we've got some real right-wingnuts commenting on this board, don't we?? I mean seriously? Obama and the Dems led us into a recession?!? You pathetic GOP'ers actually believe that, don't you? Sad... just so sad...

    May 31, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. TomGI

    I hope Cruz is their presidential candidate in 2016. He's un-electable in a national election, 25% at best.

    May 31, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  4. clownshoes Mcgun from Kentucky

    Hilarious...I mean HILARIOUS!!!

    The GOP is so out of touch with the rest of the country its amazing. I'm not saying that having one party with all the ideas is the best idea, but right now the Dems are all we have. All the GOP can do is whine about Bengazi and whine more about "freedoms". They are an absolute joke and will continue to be a joke the more they let idiots like this win straw polls.

    News Flash to the GOP...the Beaver Cleaver days for this country are long dead...you may want that 65+ vote and pretend that its not..but it is, and the sooner you get that reality the better. But hey...at least they are for gun rights!!! YEEEE HAAAAA!!!

    May 31, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  5. Jeff6187

    Didn't we learn from Obama not to get all excited over a man running for President with a lot of talk but little else in the way of experience aside from the lot of talk...

    May 31, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  6. Dan

    Yeah, this guy is the most unelectable Republican other than Santorum. What a joke. Straw polls mean nothing.

    May 31, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  7. Larry38363

    This straw vote is what the Republican Party is all about! And look at the comments on here. People the Republican Party is no longer pro-America; they're dangerous!

    May 31, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. Vijay

    Another useless GOP poll. Ted Cruz is a Koch Brother paid servant. When he ran for the senate he got millions of dollars from Koch Brothers... David Dewhurst didn't get money even though he is holding his position.

    May 31, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. proshooter

    Cruz is the best man the Democrats have. If the Republicans look to him for leadership, they're better off with Kim Kardashian as a candidate.

    May 31, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. eoyguy

    Red States Unite

    Uh, except the "democrat" senator from WV is a DINO. He opposes (or abstains) from most bills that have anything to do with limiting coal, protecting the environment, guns laws, basically all of the Democratic platform, but is more than happy to give his people the government handouts that so many on the right are so dead set against. They have their cake and eat it too. I agree, vote him out and either get a real democrat in there, and a person that knows they are a republican, because Mancin is a DINO. They will damn the government but demand "their" checks at the first of the month, provided by that same terrible government. Or as one tea idiot sign said "keep the government out of our Medicare". And if you don't understand how idiotic that is, well...

    May 31, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  11. jdoe

    Fox News employees seem to do rather well at these contests.

    May 31, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. Kenny

    Cool...if this holds up I guess Hillary's a shoe in...

    May 31, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. Todd C

    I want to see his long form birth certificate! He was born in CANADA I tell you, CANADA!!!!

    May 31, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. BADGUY

    I feel SORRY for Republicans. They have about as much chance getting a far right candidate like Ted Cruz into the Presidency as we Socialists have of getting OUR candidate into the Presidency! Americans just WILL NOT put anyone on the "fringe" into that office.

    May 31, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  15. SGT Rock101

    Please, Lord, let Cruz be the 2016 nominee for the GOP. We need another democrat president. In fact, how about TC running in every contested election in 2014; the democrats, of which I am one, want to retake the house and senate, too.

    May 31, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  16. Wes

    Good to see the "birthers" supporting the guy. it says a lot about their character.

    May 31, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Previous winners of this poll have been Rick Perry, Michele Bachman and Herman Cain. LMAO!

    May 31, 2014 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. DaveAugust

    HAHAHA Perfect! An unelectable clown again for the GOP! Perfect!

    May 31, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  19. Daniel P. Hanover

    Is he a Protestant ? Anybody know ? Because if he's a Protestant, I'll vote for him. But if he's a Catholic, then I won't vote for him. Anybody know ?

    May 31, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  20. DougM

    Conservative voters are always afraid of things (as proven in this study: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201104/conservatives-big-fear-brain-study-finds ) , that shouldn't drive public policy.

    May 31, 2014 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  21. tanker

    Nice to see Republicans aren't waiting for the last moment to lose in 2016.

    May 31, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  22. Michael

    Ted Cruz is a joke as are the rest of the Tea Party freaks! He is as irrelevant as they come. The Republican party needs to rid themselves of people with Ted Cruz type mentality. He is a hater to say the least. Imagine any true American working against the American way of life by shutting down the government. Who paid the price for the shut down? Not Ted and his mini mobsters that is for sure. Tea Party members all seem to have common traits of being haters and racist. I joined a Facebook Tea Party page to see what they were about. It was disgusting as it was loaded with horrible comments about the president and his wife and many other people. These comments made Donald Sterling look like a saint! Luckily, the Tea Party is nothing more than a tiny pimple in the world of politics in the U.S. They will vanish soon.

    May 31, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  23. piepaw

    Who's getting the most money? That right there'll tell you who'll be nominated. It doesn't matter one little bit what their political "stance" is, it's who the 1% want to front this go 'round. Time and again that's what's been happening for decades now. There's not been a "popularly" elected president since.....you tell me?
    All just a bunch of hucksters full of lies. Doesn't matter what side of the fence they sit on.

    May 31, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. Alina1

    Hooray GOP , we are moving to nowhere .. Again.

    May 31, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  25. Revenant

    I'd like a Republican president in 2016. If they run Cruz, he probably won't win. The far-right likes him, but he's too divisive and extreme for the more moderate Republicans. That, and his followers claim to be the only "real" Republicans, which is not going to win Cruz votes from those Republicans his followers are trashing constantly.

    May 31, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
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