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. chelseachris

    Cruz was born in Canada. He is not eligible to become president.

    June 1, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. spudnik56

    A gather inf of clowns to vote for the biggest clown...pitiful...

    June 1, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. max cady

    This is great news, Cruz is the only Republican candidate I want to see.

    Go Hillary.

    June 1, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. chelseachris

    Cruz was born in Canada.

    He is not eligible to become president.

    June 1, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Larry L

    It looks like the Republicans are incapable of learning. hat does it take to make them understand how tired Americans are of hateful, bigoted, narrow-minded, right-wing radicals? I sincerely hope Mr. Green Eggs gets the Republican nomination. The Democrats could run anybody and win.

    June 1, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. rs

    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.
    I agree completely with you on your assessment of past GOP Presidents. But I have to question why you feel Mr. Cruz defines Conservative. To most of us he defines Crazy.

    June 1, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. gwtheyrn

    Well... Nominating Cruz would pretty much assure another Democrat victory. Most people I know have no stomach for the Neo-Randian ideals this man espouses- mostly because we've seen the endgame of that particular social process several times throughout history. You end up with an aristocracy- which eventually begets a violent revolt from the commoners. See: French and American revolutions.

    June 1, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. 7godeohs

    "We talk to job creators, not job holders – and ladies and gentlemen, there are a lot more job holders than there are job creators" – Rick Santorum

    They talk to job creators because that's where the largest campaign contributions come from, not from undervalued workers who are trying to afford putting food on the table. You know, the people they are supposed to represent.

    btw, it always cracks me up when they keep rolling out the term 'job creators' – they act as though all they do is create jobs and serve the common good, when in actuality they are consistently cutting jobs instead to increase their profits in order to please shareholders.

    I personally know of a company that is worth about half a billion dollars and even though they were growing and needed more people in their corporate office to keep up, they decided to cut jobs instead and force more work on their already overworked employees.

    June 1, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Elmer P.

    Straw man wins a straw poll, totally meaningless! Cruz is nothing but a cancer on a wart on the rectum of America.

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


    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.
    So in your world Rich, only Black people take welfare? And I bet you wonder why people think you are a racist!

    June 1, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Jack

    And if you think that Cruz is the Republican best candidate, you might as well hand the House, Senate and the White House to the Democrats in 2016. The Republicans may win in 2014 because gerrymandering, but that will much less in play 2016.

    Cruz, in my opinion, can't bring the moderates or the independents, independent women, blacks and others into his camp, because he has to pander to the extreme conservatives abd the religious right. That is what happened to Romney basically.

    June 1, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. radiomankc

    Does anybody remember the names of any of those who won Republican straw polls during the last two presidential elections? Me neither.

    June 1, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. Tunnel Rat

    Great!!! The Democrats put a Hawaiian in the White House now the Republicans want to respond by putting a Canadian in the White House. With the huge pool of available Republicans why do they scrape the bottom of the barrel for their presidential candidates, if Cruz is the best they have got then this country is screwed.

    June 1, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. Bill

    With any luck, he will win the nomination. What more could democrats hope for? Just how out of touch are these Republicans?

    June 1, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. Kell

    Thank you GOP. He has enough sound bites to bury himself. Please, please, please run.

    June 1, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. 1alien1

    we really need an extremist that will not work with the other party. good thing hilary is running. that will leave the extremist arm of the repubs wondering what happened once agqin. i wish they would learn and run someone i could vote for.

    June 1, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    RUN Ted RUN

    What Lib / Progressive / Democrats
    will NEVER EVER understand.........

    Commandancy of the The Alamo

    Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836

    To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—

    Fellow Citizens & compatriots—

    I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.

    William Barrett Travis.

    Lt. Col. comdt.

    P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.


    June 1, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Phil T. Listener

    I love it when one of our "leaders" in Washington make statements like this one:

    "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."

    And Cruz, one of those "politicians in Washington" tries to sell us on he being one of "we the people." I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.

    June 1, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Tunnel Rat

    Cruz really? Just goes to show that the Republicans know that Bush screwed up this country so bad that even they know that it will take 16 years to fix it. Put Cruz up so another Democrat wins the White House and can bear the wrath of the rest of the repair job. Then the Republicans will make a serious attempt to move into the White House in 2036 when we have a squeaky clean country and economy. What a plan, maybe the Republicans aren't so stupid after all.

    June 1, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Strategerist

    Cruz would make a much better president than Obama or Hillary.

    June 1, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. Steve Jarvis

    If the Republicans have to go with an extremist candidate, then Senator Cruz is clearly the best. If they want to have a shot at winning the White House they need to find someone like former Governor Huntsman who is a moderate. Plug in a wildcard like Cruz with Huntsman at the top of the ticket and I think they might pull off the upset.

    June 1, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Jordan Lyman

    Excellent choice. A candidate who a) was not born in US territory, and b) is probably the most socially conservative among a field of extremely socially conservative candidates. A sure recipe to guarantee at least another four years of a Democrat at the White House. Way to go, Tea Party.

    June 1, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. semperfiguy1011

    Cruz is an idiot, plain and simple. Too conservative to win at the national level. All they will do is make some headlines and get shellacked in the fall. Jeb Bush? It's going to take a lot of time for America to forget the abortion that was the last Bush presidency. Two unfunded wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, and letting the banks run wild? How did that workout? Hillary is talking to her interior decorator about the White house now..........

    June 1, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. AuntySocial

    Ted Cruz is not eligible to run for President. He was definitely born in Canada. Not to be confused with the Hawaiian hospital the republicans have christened Kenya.

    June 1, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. Ricardoh

    All of you opposed to Cruz have no idea what he is about. You have just heard he is the boogie man.

    June 1, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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