WASHINGTON Socially conservative Republicans gathered in Washington this week have their eye on Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for the party's presidential nod and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson for the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Family Research Council Action, a Christian lobbying group, said on Saturday that more attendees polled at the Values Voter Summit said Cruz, a leader with the Republican's Tea Party wing, should be the party's presidential nominee for the November 2016 election.
Cruz, who also won the group's so-called "straw poll" the previous two years, took 35 percent of the support among the nearly 2,700 summit-goers, followed by Carson with 18 percent, the group said in a statement. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee got 14 percent and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida 13 percent.
Business tycoon Donald Trump, who has led public opinion polls, came in fifth place with 5 percent.
Carson led among attendees for the vice presidential nod with 25 percent support among those polled, followed by former business executive Carly Fiorina with 21 percent and Cruz with 14 percent, the group said.
The results come as 15 Republicans jockey for the party's presidential nomination after two candidates dropped out in recent days.
While Republicans control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, they are looking to take back the White House following Democrats' control under two terms of President Barack Obama.
A split has emerged between so-called "establishment" candidates, who are experienced politicians, and those who have positioned themselves as Washington outsiders.
Some candidates are seeking to tap into conservatives' anger at the party's establishment in order to gain support from a key voting bloc and advance their bid. While Cruz serves in the Senate, the first-term lawmaker has shown himself as a outsider willing to challenge his party's leadership.
In announcing his presidential campaign in March, Cruz made an explicit appeal to Christians to help support him.
Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins said his group's survey shows that: "We are not looking for a Republican president who will just stop the detrimental policies of the Obama Administration. We are looking for a leader who will undo the damage this President has done to our country and our culture."
(Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Sandra Maler)