GOP Blast From The Past Polling Well

pinkston
CBS
It's official. This week, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani joined a growing field — including Arizona Senator John McCain — seeking the Republican Party nomination for president.

And a CBS news poll shows Giuliani with a wide lead. In a head-to-head race with McCain, Republicans favor Giuliani by nearly a 2 to 1 margin with Giuliani getting 50 percent to McCain's 29 percent.

Most surprising, Giuliani also solidly beats McCain among conservatives.

"There's this really strong image of Giuliani in that first 24 hours in terms of 9/11," says David Winston, a Republican pollster.

Winston thinks Giuliani's performance in that crisis may overcome conservative opposition to his moderate positions on issues such as gun control and abortion.

But Giuliani shouldn't count on support from conservatives, such as Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

"I think he's going to have absolutely no chance," says Perkins. "There are certain threshold issues of being pro-life and supporting the sanctity of human life, then you're not going to get the support of social conservatives."

Conservatives also have doubts about McCain for his moderate positions on immigration and gun control. And they question Romney's commitment to the anti-abortion cause.

While most of the media spotlight on the GOP has focused on McCain, Giuliani and Romney, there's a face from the GOP's glory days who may appeal to even more social conservatives: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich says it's too early to announce. But, when his name is added to polls, he immediately becomes a strong contender.

"He's finishing in third place, and when you look at some specific states, he actually finishes second in many of those states," says Winston.

Gingrich's rise to congressional leadership paralleled the Reagan Administration — a time when conservatives made their mark on GOP presidential nominees. They're not about to quit in 2008.