Poll: Perry would start strong as GOP contender

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is just two percentage points behind Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican nomination and the field is wide open, according to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Friday.

Romney continues to hold his lead over the field but wins the support of just 16 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents surveyed in the poll. Perry, who has not yet officially decided to run, is backed by 14 percent.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, neither of whom is in the race, polled at 13 percent, while Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) polled at 12, indicating that the race is still fluid — and that Romney and Bachmann, currently the two front-runners, have a tenuous grip on that position.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) polled at 8 percent and businessman Herman Cain received 6 percent. Other candidates who have spent much time on the campaign trail fared poorly: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman each polled at less than 5 percent.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 455 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions regarding the GOP presidential nomination horserace.

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