- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former Massachusetts Gov. and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney leads the Republican field of presidential contenders with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in second, a new poll said.

The McClatchy-Marist poll puts Mr. Romney at 19 percent, followed by Mr. Bush at 14 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are next at 9 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 8 percent, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 5 percent, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 4 percent apiece.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, former Pennsylvania Gov. Rick Santorum, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are tied at 3 percent apiece. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is at 2 percent, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are both at 1 percent.

Mr. Romney has said he isn’t planning on running for president a third time, but has said that “circumstances can change.”

Without Mr. Romney in the field, Mr. Bush leads with 16 percent, followed by Mr. Huckabee at 12 percent and Mr. Christie at 10 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in the poll said it’s more important to have a Republican nominee who will stand on conservative principles, and a third said it’s more important to have a nominee who can win.

Mr. Romney’s conservative credentials were called into question in 2012 due in part to his support for a Massachusetts health care plan that mirrored the national health care law, but he emerged as the nominee anyway only to lose in the general election to President Obama.

Some conservatives are also questioning Mr. Bush’s positions on issues like immigration and Common Core education standards, which he has defended in recent days.

The survey of 1,140 adults was conducted Dec. 3-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for the sample.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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