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. Cruz for Pres

    Who will be his running mate? Palin, Jindal, Lee?

    May 31, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  2. DENNIS

    Todd

    Todd a vote for a democrat is a vote for a communism. All they want is control of the people...America has changed we are advancing to high debt, high unemployment, high everything food prices,gas prices and to many illegal aliens..

    May 31, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  3. Teka

    We have no border. Drug Cartel cars line up, in a line in Mexico and watch drug mules easily cross into the USA. Border Agents arrested 11,000 illegal aliens on the border of Texas alone one day last week and were ordered to release them all by the Head of DHS.
    The Strange Man who is head of DHS is ordering BorderAgents not to tell judges who is illegal when they are tried for serious crimes. If the Judge knows they are illegal it might be discrimination .,THAT is the HEAD of DHS.
    Illegal aliens are being transported to Arizona, released and told to disappear.
    So many minors are being sent into the USA that an army base in El Pason is converted into a place for them until Border Agents can locate their parents and bring them to the USA for family reunification.

    HOW can anyone of you say your will ever vote for an other Democrat in your lives? The people pouring acorss our border Now..as I type this...are NOT Mexican. They are Central America. Middle East. Anyone who wants to come to the USA has a 99% chance of easily getting through. They cannot be deported and now Obama says 12 days is long enough for them not be deported.
    They have no medical checks. They have no criminal checks. They are just coming. getting on welfare the first day. The Media not reporting it. The New Emerge ring Majority that Eric Holder says is making American mad...is being assembled right now...and fast too. It is over. We do not exist as a nation anymore. We have no border. We have no sovereignty. Thugs run the nation. The Media is Baghdad Bob. The Republican Party is weak, foolish and corrupt. and you really think it matters who your vote for? When all of these people are legalized and given work permits, people will fight over the chance to work in a Jiffy Mart.

    May 31, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  4. Rascalmcdoogle

    I won't vote for any of these clowns. What a worthless bunch on what we call "both sides"...

    May 31, 2014 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  5. shropster

    Todd – America has changed for the better? Real unemployment is pushing 20%, if count those who have dropped out of the labor force.
    Is Chicago better now than 20 yrs ago? How about L.A.? Detroit? Baltimore? or any other large urban area with a Democratic Mayor?
    Have you been living in a box?

    May 31, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. SaneGOP

    It's distressing to see the party continue to prop up individuals that are no more than partisan mouthpieces. The GOP needs to be reminded that we can promote our position without lies, attacks and the celebration of people who are effectively dragging the reputation of our party through the mud.

    May 31, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  7. Sandvichmancer

    So they would vote for a man who literally cannot become president to be their nominee for president.
    The party who STILL insist that Obama is foreign-born and thus cannot be president.

    Wow.

    May 31, 2014 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  8. Sarah

    May I please see his birth certificate?

    May 31, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. rjsenterp

    As a Republican I can say that Ted Cruz is an idi@t who will impose draconian cuts in federal spending, divide the country even more than it is already, and has zero chance of winning a presidential election. I'll have to vote for Hillaryif this is the best my party can do.

    May 31, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  10. peter

    The Tea party and the hardliner GOP extremists are dividing and destroying the GOP With a splintered GOP compliments of the radical tea baggers and other GOP radical extremists how can the party ever expect to regain control of the Senate ???

    May 31, 2014 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  11. miamicitizen

    Please, ANYONE else but Ted Cruz! I will vote Rep, Dem or anything else. Coming from a Hispanic!

    May 31, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  12. Travis

    Lololololollolololo! Way to go GOP, nominate another lunatic for president! Didn't learn anything from the last two presidential elections did you? Hillary 2016!

    May 31, 2014 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  13. Irish Rosie

    Interesting that the one man the CNN article does not talk about is the future President of the US in my opinion. He is the one the Left are really afraid of. They should be too. He is a Gift to us, the man for our times.
    They just kinda ignore the fact that Dr. Ben Carson only missed 1st place by a point while all the others struggled far behind.
    They are soooooo scared. Lovin' it :)

    May 31, 2014 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  14. Jean

    I like Ted Cruz, he tells it like it is – but he is too far to the right to be electable. Unfortunately, most of the people don't want to hear the truth which is why we have the current failure in the White House.

    May 31, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. king

    I remembered when the dems took over congress, before they could do anything the disaterous repubs policies were just started kicking in. Bush then decided to veto everything the dems tried to do to curve the 2008 financial crash that took the world closest to the great depression that anyone have ever seen. It was a dem president that stop the veto pen from carrying our country over the precipit. What obama and the dems did in those first 2 years will go down as the greatest 2 years ever known by the American people. They stopped a momentus 800 thousand job lost a month to positive jobs gain, they stop a stock market disaster to head upwards with record busting outcome, they stopped a economic retractio

    May 31, 2014 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  16. Mr. Balls

    Run, Cruz, run...we'll all enjoy the loss.

    May 31, 2014 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  17. vidal808

    Oh, Ted Cruz for President? you got to be kidding. This guy has as much a chance of getting elected than Joe the Plummer. Why is anybody in the Republican Party even thinking of this guy? I as a conservative Republican would rather vote for Hillary than this moron. I really hope they come up with someone that at least has a chance.....

    May 31, 2014 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  18. Austin

    Cruz will never be a viable candidate for President. While he may get sufficient funding from the base, he will never be able to win over the general public. More extreme candidates = less overall popularity. When will we realize that this is no longer the way to go? As a Republican I am ashamed that we have lost elections by not representing the public's values. If we truly believe in economic recovery through our conservative fiscal policy then we must first win a presidency.

    May 31, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  19. mikeinsa

    I thought the Tea Party was dead. If the Tea Party is dead, why do they keep winning?

    May 31, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  20. BEverly

    ROmney didnt win when he was shown speaking ill of pres Obamas backers. Now we have can calling democrat voters stupid. Thats really going to go over well at the polls non president Cain. If we are so stupid why is it that so many now have health care and not guns?

    May 31, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  21. David

    He has zero chance of getting the nomination, let alone winning.

    June 1, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  22. TheSadTruth

    Further proof that the recent GOP/Tea Party "conflict" is just contrived theater- the same rich, evil men own both parties.

    June 1, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  23. Loathstheright

    Snicker, giggle, belly laugh....what rubes conservatives are.

    June 1, 2014 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  24. peter clarke

    Cruz will be the last person I would ever vote for...

    June 1, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  25. john

    That, had to be a bamboo straw poll from the bottom of the gin bottle.

    June 1, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
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