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. Darrell W

    Granted Senator Cruz would make a fantastic president. Unfortunately he (like Hussein Obama) is not eligible. He must be a natural born citizen to be president, and he is not. A NBC is one who was born of two American citizen parents at the time of his birth, and on American soil. If the Republicans nominate him they are disobeying our Constitution just as the Democrats are now.

    June 1, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. VoteForPedro

    2016 will be an historical GOP year...for comedians. Ted Cruz (Mr. Govt shutdown leader) , Dr Carson (ACA is like slavery), and crazy Rand Paul. What a field of GOP windbags. This will be a joy to watch & laugh at. Can't wait.

    June 1, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Darrell W

    I agree that Senator Cruz would make a fantastic president. Unfortunately just like Hussein Obama he is not eligible. One must be a Natural Born Citizen to be president. A NBC is one who was born of two American citizen parents at the time of his birth, and on American soil. If the Republicans nominate him they are just as illegal as the Democrats are today.

    June 1, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  4. Sandra

    LOL Kimberly, you would vote for Obama again if he were running.
    Well DUH! Let's see, Obama or a brain dead enemy of the American people.... decisions, decisions.

    June 1, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  5. greg49

    Hillary definitely beat Cruz? But what if invisible snipers come to rescue? Then she might be in trouble. Some of the eggs "philosophers" try to explain this to to the public. Cruz is a very knowledgeable and strong candidate. Hillary is not telling the truth most of the time. For me the choice is clear. Dr. Carson is a very distinguished person, and I definitely will vote for him. As for Reagan he was the best President we had.

    June 1, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Log Cabin

    It's fun to watch the GOP cave it. Now if only the Democrats would stop moving to the right.

    June 1, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. J Kay

    And Republicans wonder why the country despises it.


    A thing with no value.

    June 1, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. jeckhard

    If he didn't remind me of Huey Long he'd be almost amusing.

    June 1, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. elvis costanza

    We should have traded this nut case for Bergdahl.

    June 1, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. Executive Orders

    Run Ben Run...it's the only hope there is for the GOP.

    June 1, 2014 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. ekim corcho

    Will he give up his day job as fill in for Grandpa Munster?

    June 1, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. ironman59

    So a bunch of right wing nut jobs voted on who is the most extreme of the bunch. This proves what?

    June 1, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  13. Arglebargle

    This just shows the GOP is still enmired in personalities rather than substance. Here's a
    prime example of what is wrong with this country's political system, a candidate who's
    more interested in alienating and polarizing voters than in being a uniter, joiner and leader.

    June 1, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. Tappy Mcwidestance

    The math on the banner behind him = 0.

    June 1, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Joe The Pumber

    I want to see Cruz's birth certificate. Where upon I would deny it's authenciy so I can go on asking to see his birth certicifacte. I learned that from from the tea party.

    June 1, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  16. fekt

    Let's see, born outside of USA, check. Daddy admits to paying immigration officials on camera to get into country, check. Never EVER worked any job outside of politcs, minus. (he did flip burgers at McDonalds as I recall. That is actually it, really. Every job he's held in his entire life has been in politics. Unlike Obama who was a practicing lawyer and teacher despite what the GOP claim) Wow, he's everything that the right has been pretending Obama is. Way to go, kudos for the most hypocritical choice ever. You all forgot one thing. Has Cuban parents and will drive away the majority of latino voters for exactly that reason because the GOP don't understand how much the rest resent Cubans, BIG CHECK.

    June 1, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. Steve

    Why are liberals afraid of libertarians?

    June 1, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  18. njguy53

    I love the guy but he's as much a "natural born citizen" as the Lyin' King.

    June 1, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. janarodriquez

    Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz is the junior United States Senator from Texas. Elected in 2013, he is the first Cuban-American or Latino to hold the office. Cruz is a member of the Republican Party. Wikipedia
    Born: December 22, 1970 (age 43), Calgary, Canada
    Nationality: American
    Spouse: Heidi Nelson Cruz (m. 2001)
    Office: Senator (R-TX) since 2013
    Parents: Rafael Cruz, Eleanor Darragh
    Education: Harvard University, Princeton University, Harvard Law School

    June 1, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. jimmie

    Cruz will make a great president!

    June 1, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  21. timedonkey

    Cruz is the latest well dressed empty bag. He is a practiced complainer with no known new ideas, that is the point, to just say NO louder and longer than any other poseur.

    June 1, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  22. Simplefaith

    You have got to be kidding. Ted Cruz is not experienced enough and is not a truthful fellow. Don't trust him and wouldn't put the welfare of the American people in his hands. Uk!

    June 1, 2014 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. RNK

    Rick Santorum said it best: "we will never have the educated people on our side."

    Obama was born in Hawaii, you demand to see his birth certificate.
    Cruz was born in Canada – but you're okay with that.

    Run Cruz if you like – I will bet he doesn't last long. But, he does use small words that the GOP can understand.

    June 1, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. RNK

    Natural Born citizen:

    Anyone born inside the United States. The person must be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. (This would exempt the child of a diplomat, for example, from this provision.)
    Any Indian or Eskimo born in the United States, provided being a citizen of the U.S. does not impair the person’s status as a citizen of the tribe
    Any one born outside the United States, both of whose parents are citizens of the U.S., as long as one parent has lived in the U.S.
    Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year and the other parent is a U.S. national
    Any one born in a U.S. possession, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year.

    I don't think he qualifies as a Natural Born Citizen.

    June 1, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  25. jim

    I have no interest in voting for any unaturalized citizen like Obama.Ted Cruz is not a naturalized U.S. citizen and has no right to run like Obama. It is another scam wake up. I did like Ted Cruz to but it ilegal and he knows and the fact that he does is sick. No thanks.

    June 1, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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