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Poll: Nearly six in 10 Republicans want Romney to run

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WASHINGTON — A new poll brings good news for Mitt Romney and his allies at a time when the 2012 GOP nominee faces vocal skepticism from the right about a potential third bid for president.

According to a new CBS News survey, however, nearly six in 10 Republicans (59%) say they’d like to see Romney run for the White House in 2016, compared to 26% who disagree.

Romney confirmed Friday night in a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting that he’s seriously thinking about jumping back into the fray, hinting that his campaign would focus on making the world safer and lifting people out of poverty.

But critics and some of his potential opponents have expressed concern about backing a twice-railed presidential candidate, especially in what many consider an already strong field.

The poll indicates that Romney is in stronger demand, or at least has higher name recognition, than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who’s wanted to run by 50% of Republicans, while 27% don’t want him to run.

Less than a third — 29% — say they’d like to see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie jump in, while 44% think he shouldn’t run for president. Such underwater numbers come as Christie struggles to find relevance among the donor and business class against heavyweight competition like Romney and Bush.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also has an underwater rating, with 27% of Republicans wanting him to run, compared to 34% who wouldn’t liked to see a Paul for president campaign. Thirty-eight percent say they don’t know enough to say.

Forty percent of Republicans, meanwhile, would like to see former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ended his Fox News show earlier this month to more seriously consider a second presidential bid, to throw his hat into the ring, while 29% disagree.

Slightly more than a quarter (26%) want Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to run, while 21% say the same about Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. As for the remainder of the potential GOP field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has interest at 21%, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is at 14%, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gets 22%, renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson is at 21%, and former Sen. Rick Santorum comes in at 19%.

The poll, which was conducted by telephone January 9-12, surveyed 1,001 adults nationwide, with a sampling error of plus or minus six percent for the questions directed only at Republicans.

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