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

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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. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Oh, the nostalgia! Seems that only yerterday bombastic fire-eater Michelle Bachman won the Iowa caucus and the fireworks began. We all know how Teddy’s victory lap will end.

    June 1, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. rs

    truth hurts but reality bites
    If Democrats retain control of the Senate in 2014, it will prove that this country is hell bent on self destruction and refuses to learn from its mistakes.
    Remind me again- After Bush, and the GOP's 6 year record of filibusters and do-nothing-ism why in the world should anyone vote for them? They are America's enemies!

    June 1, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Ralph H

    Cruz is a very fascinating liar, because he seems to believe the lies he makes up in his head. He's what most in the healthcare arena would call mentally ill.

    June 1, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. johnt

    Tom, so what's getting done under Obama, federal take over of Americas health care, and already your boys and Obama are fumbling, continuing large deficits, and scheduled to increase,, congenital incompetence? Ah, of course Tom, the Alaskan pipeline, all that energy being made available by Saint Obama, right. Stop your whining btw about CNN, they've been in the bag for so called "progressive" causes for years, you don't know that, what do you know.?

    June 1, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. Shrugged

    Would love to have seen where Scott Walker would have placed. As a governor – and the only one to actually face and solve the issues facing America with a hostile Democrat/Union opposition – he is the one with the best experience.

    Walker – Cruz Ticket is a winner.

    June 1, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. TxGran

    Hire Hillary.........................

    June 1, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. rs

    Liberals are either completely brainwashed or brainless. They do not know history. America's capitalist system has brought more wealth and a higher standard of living to more people than any other political system in history.
    Excepte, of course it hasn't. It has brought unprecedented wealth to about 2% of Americans (who own about 85% of the nations total wealth), It has brought stagnant wages -especially after the GOP's war on unions- and thus, it wiped out the middle classes. Canada has a far higher standard of living for its working classes. We have a standard of health lower than Costa Rica's. Our Education systems lag, our Science lags and out industry moved to China.
    The Republican "dribble-down" economics has been a complete and utter failure that has nearly bankrupted the nation. Only fools think this is how America should run.

    June 1, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Charles

    Great! Now we get hear Cruz's insane dribble. Maybe he will read another children's book.

    June 1, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. David Adam

    Dr Ben Carson can heal the political division propagated on the US by democratsa since 2000. (I realize it's been going on much longer but the real hate from the left began with phony recount. Then ten fold when Bush had a 90% approval after 9/11 and the country was coming together. The dems could not allow the country to come together! Dems live by division and they really put their hate/division machine into motion!)

    June 1, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. MaryM

    Cruz and his supporters epitomizes the sheer stupidity of right-wing America.

    June 1, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. rs

    I cannot believe anyone is still buying that the Dems have helped this country. Six years into this failed administration and you still have the nerve to say we are moving forward? NSA, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS, VA, and the list goes on. All Congress does is investigate scandals. This is the result of failed leadership, or what you get when you hire a community organizer to lead the formerly strongest country in the free world.
    You realize of course that your list of scandals is bogus right? IRS-zip; F & F -zip (and it was Bush's in any event); NSA- began with Bush; Benghazi-zip (Issa destroyed any credibility that "investigation" had); VA- that one is so old- but hey, the Right voted down a needed 28 facilities as "too expensive".

    Face it- your lazy GOP would rather hold hearings than fix things. They are legislative welfare queens showing up on Fridays for their checks- nothing more.

    Perhaps you should spend a little time compiling a list of GOP accomplishments of the last 6 years. It too is ZIP.

    June 1, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. Fulano

    Ted Cruz is the reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy. I'm glad he won the straw poll. Just proves that the GOP is going off the far right cliff.

    June 1, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. grego

    Kenya, Canada this country's rule of law means nothing...America is dead

    June 1, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. Brian from DC

    Why is the Republican Party always stuck with people they hate!

    June 1, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. rs

    A Ted Cruz presidential nomination would insure a Hillary Clinton presidency. How is the Tea Party so blind that they can't see that?
    The fake TEA Party- run as a Texas oil industry branch of the GOP hasn't looked that far ahead yet. When they figure it out, they'll issue marching orders to their tri-fold hat brethren.

    June 1, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. bluesky

    Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson. They will get America going again. If Obama hasn't killed it yet.

    June 1, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Joe

    Cruz will get my vote. Looking at what we have in the white house today and ignorant Americans willing to vote for Hillary the Murderer, tells me that the 47% the depends of government funding will vote for Hillary regardless. Sad that our nation has turned into nothing, but welfare handouts.

    June 1, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. MrCredik

    This quote from the article says it all. "mark my words – we are going to turn this nation around,"
    Meaning they will end five years of economic recovery and head back to the Bush era of tax cuts for the wealthy and spending cuts for veterans.

    June 1, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. TheLostSurveyor

    Lord. The will NEVER learn.

    June 1, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. ps

    Good God...Handing the next election to the democrats...

    June 1, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Rich54


    You say that red states take more than blue states. Why don't you look at the percentage of blacks living in red states then:

    Ala. 26.3%
    Ga. 29.8%
    Miss. 37.4%
    NC 21.4%
    SC 28.6%
    Tenn. 16.8%

    If you are going to take your money at least take your black democrats with you.

    June 1, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. rs

    Uh, Well,
    The Obama Administration has been a ALL TALK AND NO ACTION bunch of Keystone Cops. Polls say the people are fed up.
    You are so right! The President's approval rating is only 42%, and the GOP in Congress has an 18% approval rating.

    June 1, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. greg

    Republicans will lose even if they win because only about a third of the country supports their agenda. If the GOP actually takes the White House with someone like Cruz, the backlash will be enormous.

    June 1, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. rs

    Democrats controlled the Senate and House 2007 & 2008. Lead us right into a major recession.
    Do the math Hon, the recession officially began in '07. The damage fro two unpaid for wars (plus tax cuts for the 1%- something NEVER done before in American History!) took effect. Add in almost complete de-regulations of the banks and there it was. It has a very pretty GOP red ribbon on it.

    June 1, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. clawhammerjake

    As a Democrat, I can think of no Republican presidential nominee better than Ted Cruz.

    June 1, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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