Polls: Rice, Christie top GOP voters' choices for Romney running mate

A new CNN poll finds Republican voters split over whom presumptive nominee Mitt Romney should select as his running mate, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leading a crowded pack.

A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday found that 26 percent of likely voters would like to see Romney tap Rice as his vice president. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who challenged Romney for the nomination before ending his campaign earlier this month, earned 21 percent support, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Tea Party favorite Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), tied at 14.

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House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), whose budget plan has been a focal point for the Obama campaign and Democrats’ attacks, has 8 percent backing. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal earned 5 percent and Virginia Gov. and chairman of the Republican Governors Association Bob McDonnell had 1 percent support.

Rubio, however, is the top choice of self-identified Tea Party supporters with 22 percent support, followed by Christie at 18, with Rice and Santorum tied at 16. Ryan is the pick of 13 percent of Tea Party backers.

In a second poll from Quinnipiac University, Christie topped the field, with 31 percent of likely voters across parties saying he would be a good choice for Romney and 18 percent calling him a poor pick.

Rubio was labeled a good selection by 24 percent, with 14 percent disagreeing.

On Monday, Romney said that his search for a running mate was officially under way.

Longtime Romney adviser Beth Myers, who was his chief of staff when he was governor of Massachusetts, will lead the vetting process.

“She's begun that process and is putting together the kinds of things you need to do to vet potential candidates," Romney said in an interview for ABC News that aired Monday.

Romney added that he did not have a shortlist for the position.

"I think it's way too early to begin narrowing down who the potential vice presidential nominees might be," Romney said. "But we're beginning that process."

While he did not specify a timeline, Romney said he planned to announce his selection by the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla., beginning on Aug. 27.

Alicia Cohn contributed.

This story was updated at 9:14 a.m.