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GOP race tightens in California

Jan. 23, 2008 at 8:17 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The Republican presidential race has tightened in California since Fred Thompson abandoned his bid for the White House, a poll indicates.

Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are now in a virtual dead heat for first place, and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor once considered the GOP front-runner, is a distant third, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

The Field Poll of 377 likely California GOP primary voters, taken Jan. 14-20, shows Thompson's withdrawal Tuesday will likely benefit Romney and Giuliani most, the newspaper reported.

With Thompson in the race, McCain led with 22 percent, followed by Romney at 18 percent, and Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tied at 11.

But without Thompson, the poll showed McCain's lead over Romney shrinks two percentage points -- 23 to 21 percent -- while Giuliani gets 13 percent and Huckabee 12, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 7 percent.

The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points, was released before the former Tennessee senator announced his departure from the Republican contest.

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