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Presidential Derby

September 12, 2011 - 6:00pm

Supporters of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts could take some heart from a Rasmussen Reports poll of likely voters released Tuesday that showed their candidate ahead of President Barack Obama in a possible general election match-up. The poll found Romney taking 43 percent while Obama trailed with 40 percent. In a Rasmussen poll released last month, Obama was ahead of Romney by 4 points ... A poll released on Tuesday from Public Policy Polling, a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, found Romney doing best when matched up with Obama. PPP had Obama taking 49 percent with Romney following with 45 percent. The PPP poll had Obama beating three other possible Republican candidates by double digits. The president took 52 percent when matched against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who garnered 41 percent. Obama beat former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia by a similar margin -- 53 percent to 41 percent. Obama did the best against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, routing her 53 percent to 39 percent ... Despite calls for her to take on her boss in a rematch of the 2008 Democratic primaries -- including from, of all people, former Vice President Dick Cheney -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that there was no chance she will enter the 2012 presidential race ...

Speaking on Fox News after the CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa on Monday night, former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska backed away from her previous statement that she would make a final decision on whether to enter the race by the end of September. On Monday night, Palin insisted there was no timeline for a final decision to be made ... In the same interview, Palin said she agreed with Bachmanns attacks on connections between Perrys team and the makers of the HPV vaccine that Perry ordered given to schoolgirls in the Lone Star State. Nor was Palin alone. Gingrich, who had refrained from attacking Perry on the matter during the debate, slammed the Texas governor on it on Fox News after the debate ... Currently, under the party rules, only four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- can hold their primaries or caucuses before March 6. Despite that, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona announced that her state would be holding its GOP primary on Feb. 28. South Carolina Republicans responded on Tuesday, indicating they were open to moving up their primary to earlier in February ...

After the CNN/Tea Party Express debate held in Tampa on Monday night, some of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination headed to the early states before they hit Florida again next week for the Presidency 5 event in Orlando hosted by the Republican Party of Florida ... The team behind former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah is increasingly downplaying Florida to focus on New Hampshire, despite basing their campaign in the Sunshine State. There are some signs this week that the focus on the Granite State, home of the first presidential primary, is starting to pay off. On Tuesday, Huntsman announced that three New Hampshire state representatives -- David Knox, Rick Ladd and Jeff St. Cyr -- are backing his bid for the Republican nomination ... While Huntsman focused on New Hampshire, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania turned his eyes to South Carolina, which will hold the first primary in the South. Renewing his call for increased manufacturing in America, Santorum spoke in Lancaster, S.C., and Fort Mill, S.C., on Tuesday. Santorum will campaign in the Lowcountry on Wednesday with appearances in Bluffton, Hardeeville and Hilton Head before hitting Greenville on Thursday ... Texas Congressman Ron Paul, on the other hand, will hit Nevada, an early caucus state, on Friday before heading to California on Saturday and Iowa, home of the first caucus, next week ...

Earlier in the month, Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said that he thought Obama should be challenged by a liberal in the Democratic primaries. Kucinich, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004 and 2008, said he has no intention of offering that challenge himself ... Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama spoke over the weekend at a 9/11 commemoration event. With Moores campaign for the Republican presidential nomination going nowhere, speculation has increased that he intends to run for the conservative Constitution Partys presidential nomination. Moore had been scheduled to speak at the Alabama Constitution Party meeting on Sept. 24, but the meeting has been canceled. Moore is still scheduled to speak at a national event backed by the Constitution Party in Coeur dAlene, Idaho, in early October ... So far, two candidates from California have declared their intention to seek the Green Partys presidential nomination: Stewart Alexander, who ran as the Socialist Partys vice presidential nominee in 2008, and Kent Mesplay, a biomedical engineer who ran for U.S. Senate in 2006 and for the Green presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008. There could soon be a third: Dr. Jill Stein, a physician who ran for governor of Massachusetts as the Green candidate in 2002 and 2010. With some media exposure, Stein has raised her profile in recent weeks.

Reach Kevin Derby at or (850) 727-0859.

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