It's official: they love the big lug (in fact, they love pretty much every Republican sane people regard as crazy):
Sen. Ted Cruz hasn't said whether he has presidential ambitions, but Sunday he won one of the first straw polls for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.It's not looking good for some of the big names:
The Texas Republican captured 45 percent of the 504 votes cast by attendees at the Western Conservative Summit, a day after drawing several standing ovations during his luncheon speech at the fourth annual conference....
Placing second was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who delivered the keynote address Friday at the three-day summit, with 13 percent of the vote.
Tied for third were Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, and former Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Republican, with 9 percent each....
Perhaps the most surprising finish was registered by Dr. Ben Carson, a conservative columnist and retired neurosurgeon, who wasn't a conference speaker but logged 7 percent of the vote....
Other prominent Republicans seen as potentially strong presidential candidates didn't fare as well in the straw poll. Bringing up the rear were Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsn, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.The old saying is "Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line." This time around, I'm not sure that's going to hold.
On the other hand, there was one of these summits in 2011 (they take place at Colorado Christian University) and the winner was ...
um, Herman Cain, with 48%.
Second place, with 13 percent, went to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has not formally announced his presidential campaign but addressed about 1,000 people at the conference Friday.But Cain and Romney did top the polls at various times in 2011 before succumbing to self-inflicted wounds, and Santorum was the last guy standing against Romney. So I'm not sure we should dismiss that 201 result.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who addressed the group Friday, got 10 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, won Colorado's Republican presidential caucuses in 2008, also got 10 percent. Nine other Republicans split the rest of the votes.
For 2016, it's hard to know who if anyone would be the "respectable" candidate with the money and killer instinct to destroy crazy-base challengers, the way Romney destroyed Santorum and Gingrich. So I think 2016 could be the year when the dam bursts and the party rejects the safe candidate, though it's way too early to tell.
And just to follow up on the post last weekend in which I said that Ted Cruz can't possibly tack to the center, let's look at what he said at the summit:
In his summit speech, [Cruz] unveiled the launch of Don't Fund It, a national campaign aimed at killing Obamacare by removing its funding from the Sept. 30 budget resolution. He also called for the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service, which he said would be possible by simplifying the tax code.I rest my case. He's not going to tack to the center. Ever.