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Hillary Clinton's lead over potential 2016 GOP foes shrinks: Poll

The good news for Hillary Clinton in a new McClatchy-Marist poll is that she's still ahead of all of her potential Republican challengers in a hypothetical 2016 presidential match-up.

The bad news is that her lead has shrunk - and quickly - as her book tour and other public events have carried her back into the center of the political fray.

In the new survey, the former secretary of state outpaces Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., by seven points, 48 to 41 percent. In April, though, McClatchy found her ahead of Christie by 11 points, 53 to 42 percent. And in February, the gap between the two was a yawning 21 percent.

Against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Clinton holds on to a seven point lead, 48 to 41 percent. In April, she was ahead of Bush by 16 points, 55 to 39 percent.

And matched against Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Clinton earns 48 percent to Paul's 42 percent, but in April, she bested Paul by 14 points, 54 to 40 percent.

Lee Miringoff, the director of Marist's polling institute, blamed Clinton's flagging numbers on the increased publicity generated by her tour promoting her memoir "Hard Choices," along with a few gaffes she committed along the way.

Will Hillary Clinton's awkward answers about wealth hurt her?

Critics pounced in June when Clinton said she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, left the White House in 2001 "dead broke." While the Clintons did leave the White House with a pile of legal debt, they quickly earned millions from book deals and speaking fees. Clinton later expressed regret for the comments, calling them "inartful."

"Misstatements, starting with we left the White House broke, aren't headline grabbers, but they're noticeable," Miringoff, said, according to McClatchy. "With Hillary Clinton, there's no preseason. She needs a Super Bowl-like performance from start to finish."

Before any of the Republicans can take the fight to Clinton, though, they have to emerge from their own primary scrum - and according to this new poll, that's going to be no small feat.

Bush and Christie lead the pack at 13 percent apiece, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz close behind at 10 percent. The others are mired in single digits, with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at 9 percent, Paul and Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, at 7 percent, and Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., at 4 percent. Twenty-three percent are undecided.

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