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. randomguy9999

    I'm Republican, and I can't believe that Cruz is the best we can offer. It's ridiculous for him to WIN a straw poll.... and completely delusional:

    If it's Cruz vs. Clinton .... Clinton will win by the biggest margin in Presidential election history... and any fellow republican that doesn't see that is hiding their head in the sand.... Cruz is a joke and is destroying the GOP.

    June 1, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Mark

    Democrats delight with joy at the prospect of Cruz fronting the GOP ticket in 2016! Hillary wins with 400 electoral votes if that happens!

    June 1, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Bob Ross

    It would be GREAT is this nitwit got the GOP nomination. This guy is a blithering idiot and we wouldn't even have to spend any money to win in a landslide. Too bad he was born in Canada and is, therefore, ineligible.

    June 1, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. frontgatee

    Hillary will whip this pinhead like a stepchild. hahahahhahaha

    June 1, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. davidfarrar

    There are only two ways to acquire US citizenship, one is either born a natural US citizen, or one becomes a US citizen by positive law, naturalization.

    In Sen. Cruz’s case, since he has to quote Title 8 USC §1401 (g) (positive law) to acquire US citizenship at birth, he cannot possibly be an Art. II §I cl. 4 natural born Citizen. In Obama’s case, assuming he was born in Hawaii; he was born a foreign national by his own admission, and, thus, must rely on positive law at the age of majority to become a ‘naturalized’ US citizen, making his occupancy of the office of the President of the United States unconstitutional as not being an Art. II §I cl. 4 natural born Citizen.

    ex animo

    June 1, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Cynthia

    Where is his birth certificate?????? Okay, most of us really don't care. It's the 21st c., the chances of someone being a naturalized citizen in politics is great and as long as they aren't a raving lunatic...oh wait, there goes Cruz'. I can't wait to see how the right double-talks this issue. Our president was born in the US and they still haven't dropped that issue. Now they have picked a guy who WAS born outside the US. Ironic and the left could be salivating. Hopefully, they will stick to the issue and not be as idiotic and childish. If this didn't give the Democrats about a 10 point lead already, it would be even funnier.

    June 1, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. TruthFinderXXX

    Carson / Cruz = 12-16 years of intellect in the Presidency.

    June 1, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Maria

    Good Grief!

    June 1, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. learnUSA

    I really love the guy as a person, but He cannot be president. The Constitution says you HAVE TO BE BORN IN THE USA. he was born in Canada. that is NOT the United States Of America. closer to France or England than American. Even if they are our Neighbors.... whats next we nominate someone from Mexico, perhaps one of the Caribbean islands....

    Sorry Ted you are not qualified.

    June 1, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. tesla0x0

    I voted republican and independent in the last election.

    The democrats and obamacare, among other 'accomplishments' have been, and continue to be disastrous for the US and its economy.

    That being said, I won't vote for anyone but a Natural Born Citizen of the USA.

    Obama certainly was not qualified and Cruz is not either.

    If your Dad was not exclusively a citizen at your birth, you do not qualify.

    That is the way the framers made it, and that is what is REQUIRED to assure a loyal POTUS to the Constitution and the interests of the USA and its Citizens, natural born or otherwise.

    Obama's numerous illegal actions, including his recent blatant release of 5 of Afganistan's worst enemies to peace, are PROOF that the election of an illegitimate candidate to office invites disaster and lawlessness.

    June 1, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Bill in Florida

    Awesome! Wingnuts ... the gift that keeps on giving.

    June 1, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Addie

    I would be very proud to vote for Ted Cruz 2016

    June 1, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Kimberly Whitaker

    Terrifying! This shows how far gone the GOP is. No thanks, never, not in a million years!

    June 1, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Citizen123

    Has he even renounced his Canadian citizenship yet?

    June 1, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. Larry

    Why is it when anyone says anything negative about Obama, they're a racist, but if they say anything negative about Cruz or Carson, it's just peachy?

    Oh, it's because they're not DEMOCRATS! I forgot – when you join a different party, you're fair game for racism, sexism, and anything else negative the liberals want to throw at you.

    June 1, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  16. tesla0x0

    Not natural born, no dice.

    Neither is Barry, and ALL his work MUST be undone by the next legitimate President.

    When you put a non-natural born citizen (his daddy must be only a citizen of the USA) in the white house, the rule of law is BROKEN.

    June 1, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Ali Baba

    I don't care if Republicans take away womens rights. Maybe they shouldn't have any. We need this man for President.

    Cruz-Palin 2016

    June 1, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. Addie

    Cynthia, here's a lesson for you.
    Ted Cruz's mother IS a US citizen, Ted Cruz IS "natural-born" US citizen even though he was born in Canada.

    June 1, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Addie

    LOL Kimberly, you would vote for Obama again if he were running.

    June 1, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Neville James

    Ted Cruz will have Hillary for breakfast. He is one of the best debaters in the USA

    June 1, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  21. chris m

    The kids in student government at the local middle school are years ahead of the this clown. Plus, they're schooled in actual science.

    June 1, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. rs

    Neville James
    Ted Cruz will have Hillary for breakfast. He is one of the best debaters in the USA
    Will he bring Dr. Suess again?

    June 1, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. rs

    LOL Kimberly, you would vote for Obama again if he were running.
    Against Cruz?! I'd vote for Mickey Mouse! If only Obama (or Bill Clinton) could run again if this is the best the GOP can do.

    June 1, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Layne

    This was the guy who read "Green Eggs and Ham" as a metaphor for the failures of Obamacare without realizing the irony that the morale of the story is that the character liked green eggs and ham after he tried it. This is the moron you want to put in the Presidency? LOL good luck.

    June 1, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Bubba

    The GOP must want Hillary to win. Cruz is the textbook definition of a moron, which is why the GOP likes him.
    No one in the GOP has ever opened a textbook, thus, this information most likely escaped them.

    June 1, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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