Veepstakes 2012: Republicans Pick Santorum, Rubio As Tea Party, Indies Split

on May 03 2012 4:40 PM
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    U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Facebook
  • santorum
    As Mitt Romney marches toward the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum is making his latest "last stand" in his home state of Pennsylvania. REUTERS
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Republican voters say Mitt Romney's former GOP primary rival Rick Santorum or freshman U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio should be his No. 2 on the Republican 2012 ticket, a poll said Thursday.

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll testing 19 potential running mates, Santorum and Rubio topped the list with 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Independents and Tea Party supporters -- two constituencies that are critical for Romney to cobble together a winnable coalition this November -- are divided on who they want to see as the Republican vice presidential nominee.

For unaffiliated voters, 18 percent chose Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania who dropped his presidential campaign in April. He also had a relatively high favorability rating among independents at 20 percent.

Rubio, however, is a dud with independents, 4 percent of whom would support placing the Cuban-American senator on the ticket. They also gave him 12 percent favorability rating; 12 percent having an unfavorable view of the senator.

Tea Party supporters, however, have a warm spot for Rubio, whose Tea Party popularity who ran a successful insurgent campaign for  Senate.  Almost a quarter of these voters -- a group that the Romney campaign is courting to shore up a right flank that was skeptical of the former Massachusetts governor during the primary -- want Rubio as the vice presidential nominee. Tea Party supporters surveyed also gave him a 59 percent approval rating.

The runners up in the veep stakes poll include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- both of whom get support from 13 percent of the vote of registered Republicans -- and 2008 contender and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, with 12 percent.

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