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

    Todd, Im thinking liberal idiots like you should pay the extra tax that policies you support impose on the rest of us. Lets call it a Democrat tax, or better yet "union dues". I'm sure your bleeding heart self would GLADLY pay that extra tax. And I would gladly let you pay it.

    June 1, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  2. Hogarth

    Cruz is such an obvious snake-oil huckster that his act wears thin real fast. He won't be the candidate.

    June 1, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  3. Hogarth

    One of the other commenters states "Obama and the Democrats want to totally destroy the coal industry" – as if that would be a bad thing. Very curious.

    June 1, 2014 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  4. A Republican supporter of President Obama

    Cruz is unelectable. All he is simple is a mouthpiece of stupidity.

    June 1, 2014 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  5. A Republican supporter of President Obama

    Hey isn't this tool unelectable since he was born in Canada?

    June 1, 2014 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  6. Janice

    What exactly is extremist in Ted Cruz's statements? Todd, ask a liberal outside of D.C. who the vice president is.... you'd get a blank look and a nonsensical answer, if you got one at all. Drake, remember you said "I don't know how having a Cuban father makes him anymore American than Obama" when he runs for office and you are calling him a non-American.

    June 1, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  7. scott

    cruz wins the straw poll....this is amusingly funny....coming from the party who said president obama was an illegitimate president cause he wasn't born here...well hawaii is here, but cruz;s canada isnt here....so put that in your pipe and smoke it....

    June 1, 2014 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  8. droffilc

    Let's pray that Cruz gets the nomination for 2016. That's means an instant win for the Democrats.

    June 1, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  9. Lee

    The problem is Holder. He refuses to do his job. Congress refuses to do their job in holding him accountable. One man cannot have this much power in Government. He just chooses who he prosecutes with prosecutorial discretion? Holder is in contempt of Congress and needs to be before a Judge. That being said, this Congress is just standing around while Obama does end runs around our laws. They just keep saying he can't do that without doing anything to stop him. Obama has shown he has no respect for our culture or the Rule of Law. There are safeguards in place for this kind of thing happening in our system of Government. The fact is Government cannot function properly when half of it's members are abetting Obama's lawlessness. Democrats are constantly criticizing Republicans for not going along with Obama and any body who doesn't think like they do is racist. What they are hiding with all this rhetoric is the fact that they are abetting and fostering Obama's usurpation of power and undermining our rights. Notice how everything they back has great sounding names but are opposite of what they proclaim to do. A recent Gallup poll shows 60% of American's think Obama lies about most big issues. Why is he still in the White House? He has no respect for himself or us by consistently lying to the public. This needs to be addressed by Congress.

    June 1, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. Oliver Clozoff

    Romney was conservative (adjective), but he was not a Conservative (noun). Neither was McCain, Dole, either Bush, Ford, Nixon, or Eisenhower. There's a big difference.

    The last Conservative president we had was Reagan, and before that it was Coolidge. The country prospered under both, even though Reagan NEVER had the House on his side.

    If Cruz wins, he would be only the third Conservative president in a century. The liberals and moderates have made complete hash of our economy and foreign policy. Let's let the Conservatives have a crack at it for a change.

    June 1, 2014 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  11. Badgerbay

    I hope Cruz gets the Republican nomination. I will vote for him, because he is unelectable, and I think the Republicans are a bunch of axe-wipes!

    June 1, 2014 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  12. Wally Lind

    Ted Cruz will not be the GOP nominee for president. Cruz does not have wide enough appeal and the primary voters know it. The far right fringe vote is split anyway, between him, Paul, and Carson. None of them have the experience to do the job, and none of them can beat that pant suit phony.

    June 1, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  13. iamwinstonsmith

    The top two Republicans in the straw poll were a Cuban and a black dude ... representing 60% of the vote. This is clear proof that Republicans are racist.

    June 1, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  14. Jimmyjam048

    If this is the best that the GOP can do, the Republican Party is doomed.
    Cruz is a nut case who is a Canadian born son of a Communist who fought for Fidel Castro.

    Bobby Jindhal warned us. The Republicans have got to STOP being the stupid party.
    Then the Ebonics speaking womanizer Herman Cain speaks up.
    Give me a break.

    June 1, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  15. wotudezerv

    cruz, paul, hucksterbe, perry, bush, all loser antiamerican proto fascist misogynistic wannabe human beings, created by fox news for the slathering canine crowd of racists and other self congratulatory ruiners of america the beautiful.

    there's a real man in the white house, folks. suk it up!

    June 1, 2014 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  16. Wally Lind

    The only one of the top five in this poll that is a sensible candidate is Huckabee. While Cruz is well spoken, none of the rest, except Huckabee is, and Huckabee is the only one with any relevant experience. After going with the inexperienced Obama for seven years, I very very much doubt that the GOP primary voter is going to tolerate a candidate that would just be another experiment in government, no matter how good the intentions.

    June 1, 2014 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  17. Bitterclinger

    Yeah those republicans are really gerrymandering the mid-term senate
    races. (Sarc)

    June 1, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  18. navaJohn

    You GOT to be kidding me! What happened to our party. I left as have many others,

    June 1, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  19. Greg

    West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky are being destroyed by "pill-billies," not the president. The Virginian mating call is the rattle of a half-full bottle of oxycontin. And they're getting their Oxy from Jeb Bush's failed experiment, a.k.a. Florida.

    And yes, 8 democratic senators from red states. Some of the population of these states do attend college at some point.

    June 1, 2014 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  20. Steve

    Well, it looks like the GOP will be "cruising" for another huge defeat in 2016, if it nominates that nut-job Ted Cruz as its presidential candidate.

    June 1, 2014 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  21. Fred Cordova

    Ted Cruz - Bwaaa-haaa-haaa!

    June 1, 2014 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  22. Jeff

    I'm ashamed to say I'm technically still a republican but I would not vote republican anymore even if you held a gun to my head. I really need to change my party affiliation, it's embarrassing.

    June 1, 2014 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Cruz / Carson

    June 1, 2014 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  24. jason

    if he wasn't born in america he shouldn't be eligible to be president of the united states.

    June 1, 2014 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  25. beavishead

    he said "straw pull"

    June 1, 2014 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
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