As Republican presidential contenders battle in Iowa ahead of the state’s presidential caucus, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney campaign’s got a boost from the endorsement of the popular governor of the state of New Jersey.
While Romney is seen as the overall front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination for the presidency, rival Ron Paul has risen in the polls just days before the Iowa caucuses, the country’s first nominating contest for the 2012 presidential election.
An NBC/Marist survey shows Romney with 23 percent of the support among likely participants in the January 3 caucus. But Paul, a congressman from Texas, was just behind with 21 percent.
The candidates are campaigning furiously in Iowa, with appearances at local eateries and bars, rallies and town halls, and in between, speeding around the central U.S. state to their next campaign stop.
Romney held a morning event, where he criticized U.S. President Barack Obama and promised change in Washington and a new direction for the economy and the country. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who at one time had been considered a possible candidate, appeared at the rally to support Romney.
“What a guy, that guy is. Isn’t he amazing? Gosh, we’re so lucky to have him in our party and leading a great state like New Jersey, fighting the battles to take back America.”
Former senator Rick Santorum, who saw a recent bump in the polls, says he remains confident the caucuses, seen as an important indicator of nationwide prospects, will turn in his favor.
The NBC/Marist poll puts him in third, with 15 percent support.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, the latest one-time favorite to fade away, has seen his support tumble in Iowa. Though he continues to campaign hard in the testing ground state, Gingrich reminded reporters the candidate will be chosen in votes in 50 states, not just one, and said in many other states he retains a strong lead.
And Jon Huntsman, who was President Obama’s ambassador to China, is focusing instead on New Hampshire, the second state scheduled to vote on a nominee. That northeastern state holds its primary on January 10.
In the latest survey in that state, Romney holds a strong lead, supported by 44 percent of likely primary voters, followed again by Paul.