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Romney Greets Big Crowd As New Poll Shows Him Tied at the Top

(CBS)
From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

DES MOINES, IOWA -- On a night when a new national poll shows him sharing the lead in the GOP presidential race for the very first time, Mitt Romney spoke to one of the largest crowds his campaign has seen to date at an Iowa Christmas extravaganza.

The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Romney climbing to 20 percent nationally among Republican primary voters — tied for first place with Rudy Giuliani, whose numbers continue to slide.

Though he was the clear leader in most early voting states for several months, Romney has lagged far behind in national polls until now. While he has slipped to second place in Iowa, the Romney campaign heralded the new national poll as a sign that Romney's message is resonating.

"Governor Romney's conservative message of strengthening our families, our economy and our military is connecting with people around the country," Romney's press secretary Eric Fehrnstrom told CBS News.

More than 1,000 people gathered in the Sheraton hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa, to celebrate Christmas with Romney. The governor was joined on stage by his son Josh, who has visited all 99 Iowa counties in support of his dad's candidacy.

Keeping in the holiday spirit, Romney avoided attacking his GOP opponents and instead relayed a positive message interlaced with several of his favorite stump stories.

Romney only spoke about one Republican politician other than himself tonight, and it was not someone who's running against him this year.

"The house that Ronald Reagan built is the house that I want to live in," Romney said.

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.