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Ted Cruz wins presidential straw poll at Republican Leadership Conference

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Ted Cruz, R-Texas has won another straw poll, escalating his national profile and elevating his name among potential 2016 presidential contenders.

The freshman senator and tea party favorite was one of the strong contenders for 2016, speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this week.

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, finished third with 10.43%.

Both Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Governor Rick Perry 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 features of who’s who of big-name Republican politicians. It is an important introduction for potential presidential candidates to make.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in dead last with 1.11% while Florida’s former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Sen. Marco Rubio, both came in seventh and eighth at 4.42% and 3.32%, respectively.

Cruz’s address was among the most popular. In fact, he was interrupted several times by cheers and standing ovations when he told the crowd he was “convinced” the Republican Party would retake control of Congress in the midterm elections this fall.

Cruz won and captured 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 hopeful for 2016 presidential candidate said that across the country, people told 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 a 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 respect to: Washington's elites, Democrat and Republican, in the fight over drones, gun rights and filibusters. However, he cited a “tsunami” of populist power. A wave of grassroots supports 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 gave a passionate speech to return to conservative values and slammed those who would compromise in order to win elections. He was talking about the moderate Republicans 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, and “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, Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker, Donald Trump, business magnate were also in attendance at the conference. However, none of them were included in the straw poll.

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain also spoke, and hinted that he might 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.”

Cain was a leading candidate in the 2012. He reiterated that Republicans didn't reach out to minorities, citing himself as an example. He was not included in the straw poll.

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