Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scored a huge victory Monday, winning a key straw poll of Tea Party supporters.
The poll, taken among 23,000 Tea Party enthusiasts organized by the Tea Party Patriots, one of the nation’s biggest Tea Party organizations, had Gingrich winning with with 31 percent of their vote, registered in a conference call on Sunday night.
Coming in a close second was Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, with 28 percent. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, pulled 20 percent; former Sen. Rick Santorum, 16 percent; Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, 3 percent; Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, 2 percent, and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., 0.3 percent, The New York Times reported.
The results come as Gingrich is seeing some of his once-formidable lead slipping away. In some recent polls, he is either slightly leading in Iowa or behind Paul.
The candidates, who spoke in succession, were asked 10 minutes’ worth of identical questions, all of which assumed agreement in the premise of the question. For example, all were asked how they would repeal President Obama’s health care law — not whether they would repeal it.
Gingrich said he would ask the House and Senate to pass legislation to repeal it and move the bill in time so that he could sign it on Inauguration Day. He said he would ask all House and Senate candidates who are running to pledge in advance to vote for repeal.
Romney said he would issue an executive order to grant a waiver to each state. For states that did not accept the waiver, he would introduce legislation to repeal it.
Bachmann said she would campaign for those candidates who pledged to repeal the health care law and argued that waivers would not work.
Santorum, meanwhile, said he would use the budget reconciliation process, in which only 50 votes in the Senate, not a supermajority, are necessary to pass a budget, which could be stripped of all health care spending. “Gut it,” he said.
Rep. Steve King, a Republican and tea party favorite from, told the listeners that so far, he was disappointed in the field. He lamented that none of them had “articulated the depth of the financial problem we’re in.”
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