- Title: USA: Republican John McCain edges into Florida lead for presidential nomination
- Date: 29th January 2008
- Summary: (BN16) MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 28, 2008) (REUTERS) VARIOUS MIAMI BEACH/ CITY SKYLINE
- Reuters ID: LVA21VV6YMV9U6AS5SKBOYGOTSGF
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:14
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Story Text: Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain campaign across Florida looking for votes ahead of the Republican primary on Tuesday, as a new Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll shows McCain opening a narrow lead over Romney.
The campaign trail in the Sunshine state heated up on Monday (January 28) as presidential candidates swarmed through Florida one day ahead of the primary.
Republican Mitt Romney, a wealthy former venture capitalist, took to the streets to meet his supporters, emphasize his economic credentials and criticize his rival John McCain's understanding of the economy. He also didn't miss an opportunity to take a swipe at McCain for what he calls a more liberal political stance.
"I don't think McCain's a Democrat but I do recall a story, am I wrong, that he was thinking about being John Kerry's running mate. He gave it some thought. Had someone asked me that question there would not have been a nanosecond of thought about it. It would have been an immediate laugh,"
he said referring to John Kerry's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination four years ago.
Despite the bravado, McCain opened a narrow lead on Romney ahead of the critical Florida primary after picking up the endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Monday. The endorsement gives McCain more credibility among hard-line Republicans and older voters in Florida ahead of the potentially critical showdown.
McCain gained 3 points overnight after winning the Florida governor's backing on Saturday. The shift broke a tie at 30 percent and pushed McCain, an Arizona senator, into a 33 percent to 30 percent lead on Romney before Tuesday's primary.
The margin of error in the poll is 3.4 percentage points.
McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, has stressed his foreign policy experience and his leadership on Iraq, including his backing of President George W. Bush's strategy to raise troop levels there.
The poll found the economy is the top issue in Florida among likely voters, at 40 percent. The war on terrorism ranked second at 14 percent, with the war in Iraq in third at 12 percent.
"The economy is important and we've been talking about the economy and I have led in managing the economy of this country and I'm proud to be part of the Reagan revolution that began the longest period of prosperity in American history and I led and I didn't manage. But the point is our nation's security is our foremost obligation to our people," he said.
Despite a win in Iowa by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's long lead in national polls last year, neither candidate has been able to gain traction in Florida as McCain and Romney leave them behind.
Giuliani, who pulled out of early voting states to concentrate on Florida, was at 14 percent. Huckabee was at 11 percent, down 3 points overnight.
About 8 percent of Florida voters are still undecided about their choice.
Giuliani tried to reinvigorate his campaign by adding some Hollywood glamor to his presidential bid. Movie star Jon Voight danced for the crowd of supporters before introducing the former New York Mayor.
"If we win here in Florida we are going to win the republican nomination and then we are going to win the presidency and once again it will be Florida that determines the President of the United States of America.
Thank you very much and God bless you."
The winner in Florida will gain valuable momentum heading into the Febuary 5 "Super Tuesday" voting, when 21 states will have Republican nominating contests in a sprawling coast-to-coast battle.
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