Poll: Carson, Rubio gaining on Trump

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Presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Sanders to campaign together in New Hampshire Trump enters new debate frontier Gingrich labels Clinton 'fox,' Trump 'hedgehog' in tweet MORE continues to lead the crowded GOP field by double digits, according to the latest survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) released Tuesday, but more than one opponent is gaining on him.
 
Trump leads with 27 percent support, down 2 points from a survey conducted at the end of August, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has gained a couple of points and stands at 17 percent.
 
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Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioSenate rivals gear up for debates Rubio: End of Obama's term could be 'most damaging yet' Fifteen years since pivotal executive order, STORM Act could help fight terror finance MORE (Fla.) follows at 13 percent — a 6-point increase from the outlet's last survey more than a month ago — with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush steady at 10 percent.
 
Rounding out the top tier of GOP candidates nationally are Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 7 percent, former businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 6 percent, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who take 4 percent support apiece.
 
The bounce for Rubio in the past five weeks has placed him in the crosshairs of Trump, who has sought to defend his lead in the polls, which has lasted more than two months. 
 
Rubio and Trump discussed each other during dueling television interviews Tuesday morning on NBC's "Today" show and CNN's "New Day" respectively. 
 
Rubio made light of a "care package" he received from Trump: A case of Trump-branded water bottles and towels suggesting the freshman senator perspires an unusual amount.
 
"Apparently the water is very high-quality water, it's top-notch water that he sent us, that Donald Trump sent us, so we're grateful for the gift," Rubio said on NBC.
 
Trump, meanwhile, continued to defend his own performance during the second GOP debate, describing Rubio on CNN as "a total lightweight. ... He's got $12 in the bank."
 
Rubio is viewed favorably by 57 percent of GOP primary voters in the latest PPP poll, putting him second only to Carson. About a quarter, 24 percent, of voters view the Florida senator unfavorably. 
 
In that time, Trump has dropped a net 14 points in favorability since late August, now standing at 50 percent favorability to 38 percent unfavorable. 
 
The survey of 627 GOP primary voters was conducted Thursday to Monday via landlines and the Internet with a margin of error of 3.9 points.