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Poll: Rivals may have tough time topping Romney

 Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney embraces Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as Romney introduced him at a campaign e...
 Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum listens to an audience member's question during an event at the Keene Publi...
 Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up after after campaigning at the Keene Public Library in Ke...
 Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney listens as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley introduces him before a campaign ...
 A ballot for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary is posted at the Town Hall, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 in Alton, N.H.  New Hampshire voters go to...
 President Barack Obama has a quiet lunch with a small group of supporters who were winners of his re-election campaign's "Lunch with Barack" fundrais...
 Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich winks at a questioner during a campaign stop in Newport, N.H. Friday, Jan. 6, 2...
 Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas waves as he arrives to a campaign stop, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, in Nashua, N.H.  (AP Photo/Ev...

APTOPIX Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney embraces Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as Romney introduced him at a campaign e...

Santorum 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum listens to an audience member's question during an event at the Keene Publi...

Santorum 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up after after campaigning at the Keene Public Library in Ke...

APTOPIX Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney listens as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley introduces him before a campaign ...

NH Primary 2012

A ballot for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary is posted at the Town Hall, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 in Alton, N.H. New Hampshire voters go to...

Obama Lunch

President Barack Obama has a quiet lunch with a small group of supporters who were winners of his re-election campaign's "Lunch with Barack" fundrais...

APTOPIX Gingrich 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich winks at a questioner during a campaign stop in Newport, N.H. Friday, Jan. 6, 2...

Paul 2012

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas waves as he arrives to a campaign stop, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Ev...

A new poll suggests that Mitt Romney's rivals could have difficulty stopping his drive to win the Republican Party's nomination as Barack Obama's challenger in the November presidential election.
The TIME/CNN/ORC poll released Friday showed Romney soaring into the lead in South Carolina, where Republicans will hold their third nominating contest on Jan. 21.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, on Tuesday narrowly won the party's first contest, the Iowa caucuses. His rivals have all but conceded that Romney will win next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary even though they will have opportunities to try to slow his momentum during two debates this weekend.
Romney would be difficult to stop if he manages to sweep the first three contests. A victory in South Carolina would be huge for him. It's a conservative state and Romney has struggled to win over Republicans who view him as too moderate. Romney underscored the state's importance by leaving New Hampshire to campaign there Thursday and Friday.
The new poll indicates that Romney has received a boost from his Iowa win and with conservatives unable to rally around an anti-Romney alternative.
It showed Romney with 37 percent support in the state, a 17-point gain since early December. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who almost tied Romney in Iowa, was at 19 percent, a 15-point surge. That put him in a statistical tie with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had plummeted from 43 percent support.
Romney has cast himself as the candidate best-positioned to take on Obama, whose prospects for re-election have been hurt by the United States' slow recovery from a recession.
But Obama got a boost Friday when the government reported the creation of 200,000 new jobs in December.
Romney, Santorum and Gingrich share a debate stage Saturday night and again Sunday morning with the other three surviving contenders, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Ordinarily, the week between lead-off Iowa and New Hampshire is one of the most intense of the entire president campaign. That hasn't been as true this year in New Hampshire, given Romney's four years as governor of next-door Massachusetts, his numerous campaign trips here and the reaffirming victory in Iowa.
With only three days remaining until the first-in-the-nation primary, television advertising was relatively modest, with Paul, Romney and a committee supporting Huntsman the only entities spending significant sums.
Gingrich has been talking of merely holding Romney's winning total under 50 percent in New Hampshire, and Paul, arriving in the state on Friday, focused his criticism on Santorum.
"He brags about being for a balanced budget amendment but never did anything about it," Paul said of Santorum's time in the U.S. Senate.
Campaigning in Concord, Huntsman was asked whether the other candidates had "clawed their way to the right," leaving him as the centrist in the race. He called himself a realist.
Meanwhile, Perry unveiled a new commercial for stations in South Carolina, as did a group that backs Santorum.
Perry's stresses his upbringing as the son of tenant farmers and mentions his time as a pilot in the Air force, years working on the family farm with his father, and his marriage to his high school sweetheart.
"The values I learned served me well as governor of Texas and will continue to guide me as president," the ad says.
The pro-Santorum spot calls the former Pennsylvania senator "the principled conservative ... the conservative we can trust."


Updated : 2021-04-11 17:44 GMT+08:00