Republican Romney solidifies poll lead after debate

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2011 7:23 PM
Republican Romney solidifies poll lead after debate

By Ros Krasny

BOSTON (Reuters) - Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney solidified his standing as the early front-runner in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination after Monday's seven-candidate debate, polls released on Thursday showed.

A survey by Public Policy Polling showed Romney with 22 percent support among Republicans. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, new to the field and seen as a strong performer in Monday's debate, had 19 percent.

Businessman Herman Cain had 17 percent, and Sarah Palin, still not an announced candidate, 15 percent.

A Rasmussen Reports poll showed Romney at 33 percent support in a survey of 1,000 voters taken on Monday night after the debate.

Dean Debman, president of the Public Policy group, said Cain's jump showed the field is still fluid, but that many Republicans are valuing perceived electability over ideology.

Romney has consistently polled as the best, or even the only, Republican currently in the race with a chance to beat Obama in the November 2012 general election.

PPP surveyed voters from Jun 9 to 12. Their poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The Rasmussen poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Romney's advisors are pursuing a strategy of limited public exposure for their candidate, after assessing that more frequent campaign events in 2008 hurt more than helped in Romney's first run for the White House.

At present that involves a smattering of traditional retail politics -- appearances at diners and small businesses -- mixed with aggressive fund-raising.

Romney has fund-raisers scheduled in more than a dozen cities before the end of June, including a three-day swing in California and events in Washington and New York.

Expected by some critics to struggle in the more conservative southern United States, Romney on Thursday announced the support of several elected officials.

In Georgia, where he visited a pie factory, Romney was praised by Attorney General Sam Olens. Three of Florida's 19 Republican Congressmen -- Connie Mack, Tom Rooney and Ander Crenshaw -- also pledged their support.

Romney had his own bump in the road in Tampa, where he met with unemployed Floridians in a coffee shop to hear about their lengthy and frustrating job searches. "I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed," quipped Romney.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the comment from the multimillionaire former venture capitalist insensitive and out of touch.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)