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Strategist concerned over fractured GOP

DES MOINES, Iowa, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The unified coalition of the Republican Party in the United States stands in disarray as party leaders see a long presidential campaign in a negative light.

The partnership of conservatism that normally contributes to the Republicans' dominance is fracturing, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney aims at Ronald Reagan-inspired conservatism, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee frustrates economic conservatives.

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The races of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gain momentum but many purists oppose these candidates for their stances on immigration and other issues, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday.

The divisive GOP field illustrates the dilution of the party's normally tight center of support resulting in a campaign with no clear front-runner.

Huckabee and Romney are nearly tied in Iowa but it's McCain and Romney who are locked in a dead-heat in New Hampshire. Guiliani's national lead complicates matters more.

"None of our candidates seem to have caught on," said GOP pollster Neil Newhouse.

Republican analysts see a prolonged primary as an opportunity for the Democratic Party to seize the momentum, the Times said.

One Giuliani supporter, however, sees one potential source of good emerging from a solidified Democratic field if that party nominates Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"Hillary, for Republicans, is the gift that keeps on giving," he said.

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