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. Greg

    It's amazing all the negative comments regarding Cruz...typical liberal model of trying to tear down the people your most scared of.

    June 1, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. mbeth

    Too funny...just way too funny. I guess foreigners running for US presidents have always been all right with them. Begs the question...

    Who stole the brains of the GOP?????? They all seem to be m i s s i n g.......

    June 1, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Derp

    I think its funny the cult hell bent on destroying America in here thinks people who don't like cruz are immediately leftist democrats or something. It's time for people to grow up.

    June 1, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Dave - Phx

    LOL at the foxidiots posting bengazi and fast and furious crap, NO ONE CARES about it. People die, get over it, you and your party starve people every day and only care about unborn.

    June 1, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. John Wilerferd

    Great news. Bring on the Crazy.

    June 1, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. jinx9to88

    He better have his birth certificate ready!! Cruz was not even born in the United States, but then again the crazies on the right are stupid enough to believe Canada is one of the 50 states.

    June 1, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Uthor

    Ha ha ha! Let's hope the Republicans put this phony simpleton on their ticket. Makes you wonder how historic the Dems margin of victory would be...

    June 1, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. theserpent6

    If you Retardublicans would like a Democratic president, by all means nominate Ted Cruz! LOL!!!! The tea party is poison..... keep drinking it up Neo-cons.

    June 1, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. rs

    America is a democracy where all men and woman are created equal. That's the soul of who we are and how we treat each other.
    Plus it's not that I say the red states get more of our federal tax dollars it's a FACT! I don't care who or what you say who makes up these states the red states get more of the federal tax dollars. Who are the takers?
    Fact: More Whites take "welfare" than Blacks. Red states are the taker states- on that point you are correct.

    June 1, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. bill.1942

    What is the morbid fascination with Dr. Ben Carson? More "white guilt"?

    June 1, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. elgranreyes

    Look forward to watching the Republican Party trying to do "outreach" to women, gays/lesbians, African-Americans, even Hispanics with a clown like Cruz. He's an extreme right-wing Cuban-American who wasn't even born in this country. Latinos are not going to vote for him, sorry. It's about the policies, not the ethnicity. But if Republicans want to self-destruct with Cruz, be our guest! We are ready for HIllary (but will also gladly accept Elizabeth Warren, Jerry Brown, Bernie Sanders, just about any Democrat will do over Cruz or all Republicans for that matter.)

    June 1, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Liz the First

    Good! let the most guanopsychotic one run against Hillary. even the few sane republican supporters won't vote for him.

    June 1, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. Gerald

    This is the best you have...really?

    June 1, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. James

    A Ted Cruz/Rand Paul Victory is the ONLY way to save this Nation from it's current slide down into the third world toilet of history. The first affirmative action "elected" President in history is a complete DISASTER and nothing short of a true conservative White House and conservative majority Congress and Senate will fix it!

    June 1, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. Ann Independent

    I'd like to see Davis win Texas; then we'll see if Cruz becomes a nominee in 2016. Davis is going pretty strong right now, especially after the runoff between Dewhurst and Patrick and Patrick won the nomination, and this is for the Lt. Governorship. No way is Abbott and Patrick going to win Texas. Patrick has too many skeletons in his closet and it's too late for Abbott to do anything about Tea Party-backed Lt. Governor to win Texas. So Ted and all Tea Party backers don't count your chickens yet? McCain and Romney made mistakes in 2008 and 2012, respectively, and they are and were the best the Repubicans had at the time. Republicans rhetorics hasn't changed since; and who cares about Tea Party as they are becoming more irrelevent these days. Nothing but hot air coming from them.

    June 1, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. Really

    How is he allowed to run for President when he was born in Canada? the rules clearly state he must be born in the USA

    June 1, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. BB

    Are the birthers going to have a field day or does citizenship requirement only for the dark skin folks.


    June 1, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Bradley Olsen

    Ted Cruz is my dream candidate. Yeah Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. laser_agg

    way to go Ted Cruz! I would walk my neighborhood for him, but doubt seriously that another milquetoast moderate RINO like Dole/McCain/Romney would even get me out of my chair on election day. If not voting for one more loser establishment republican gives the election to Hillary – if that's what the country wants – so be it, but i'm not taking that sucker bet with a RINO ever again.

    June 1, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. Patriot

    Rather fun watching the GOP implode.

    June 1, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. Now That's Funny

    Thank you for the laugh. Ted Cruz is the poster child of what is wrong with the Republican Party/Tea party in general. They are so out of touch with real life it should be a crime. Cruz and company keep blaming the liberals and democrats for the problems we face especially when they don't win and never fix a thing. If Ted Cruz is winning these polls then the White House will remain in the hands of a democrat after Obama leaves it.

    June 1, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. Rick Reid

    How is this guy even running? He was born in CANADA!!!!!!One needs to be a Natural Born Citizen to run for the President Isn't that what the Birthers tried to say about President Obama? What the hell is really going on in this country? This guy has said he was born in Canada. END OR STORY!!!!!

    June 1, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Expert Math & Science Tutoring

    Although I like Ted Cruz tremendously, he is NOT eligible to be president because he IS NOT a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN: born on US soil to *2* US citizen parents at the time of birth. This definition is from Vattel's book "Law of Nations," which was used by the founders when writing the Constitution. This was the accepted definition of natural born citizen at the time of the ratification of the Constitution in 1787.

    June 1, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. Tiredoflibs

    Gee, I'm sorry if I don't take one retarded libs word about any Republican nominee given the disastrous, tragic, incompetent moron you chose to ruin this country with for the last 2 elections.

    June 1, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Mister P

    Ma! The chickens are in the vodka hole again!

    June 1, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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