“The poll, conducted by Majority Opinion Research Sunday night, showed Gingrich leading the Republican field with 32 percent of support from those surveyed. Romney earned 23 percent, while Herman Cain rounded out the top three with 14 percent of the vote. Ron Paul led the remainder of the field with 6 percent.

“Gingrich’s lead has opened up as the former Speaker has rallied both older voters and independents. Thirty-nine percent of those 65 and older support Gingrich, versus 28 percent for Romney, while those in the 45-64 age range back the Speaker by a 37-19 percent margin. Those figures would tend to support the emerging theme that conservatives are rallying behind Gingrich as their preferred alternative. Gingrich and Romney are virtually tied among voters 18-44, who are more likely to hold liberal views.

“But Gingrich is also rallying independents, garnering 32 percent of likely voters who do not affiliate with a party. Among independents, Romney actually trails Paul, who pulls 17 percent of the vote to Romney’s 16 percent.”

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“We don’t think [Romney’s] got it,” [Manchester Union-Leader publisher Joe] McQuaid remarked. ‘We think he’s the managerial type, but he’s sort of a blank slate and he’s going to go with the winds too much.’

“‘I think — and this is crazy, but so are we — that Gingrich is going to have a a better time in the general election than Mitt Romney. I think it’s going to be Obama’s 99 [percent] versus the 1 percent, and Romney sort of represents the 1 percent.'”

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Three Republican presidential candidates have shown an openness to handing over control of drugs and medical marijuana to the states. Would you continue the current federal policy making marijuana illegal in all cases or give the states more control?

I would continue current federal policy, largely because of the confusing signal that steps towards legalization sends to harder drugs…

I think you guarantee that people will cross state lines if it becomes a state-by-state exemption.

I don’t have a comprehensive view. My general belief is that we ought to be much more aggressive about drug policy. And that we should recognize that the Mexican cartels are funded by Americans…

I think that we need to consider taking more explicit steps to make it expensive to be a drug user. It could be through testing before you get any kind of federal aid. Unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it.

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“[I]t’s ironic, since Gingrich recently twisted the knife a bit into Romney as someone in the mold of the Rockefeller wing of the party.

“The exact quote [from Gingrich’s 1989 interview]:

“‘There is almost a new synthesis evolving with the classic moderate wing of the party, where, as a former Rockefeller state chairman, I’ve spent most of my life, and the conservative/activist right wing. You have work being done by the Heritage Foundation as well as by such moderates as Tom Petri. Petri has extraordinarily broad support for his living wage concept, which represents an empowerment/citizen choice replacement for the bureaucratic/corrupt, liberal welfare state.'”

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“The insult du jour for Republican candidates this election cycle is being labeled a RINO, a Republican in Name Only. Unfortunately, the insult has been so overused lately it’s been rendered meaningless. The insult is even emptier because it is so detached from actual statements, campaign promises and voting records.

“A candidate like Newt Gingrich can get away with supporting the biggest socialist scheme in American government over the past 30 years because he says nasty things about the press and calls Barack Obama a Marxist. Jon Huntsman, on the other hand, can have a stellar conservative record as Utah’s governor, be anti-abortion and adored by the NRA. But if he refuses to spit out angry screeds against Obama, he’s dismissed as a RINO, the facts be damned.

“So as a public service to POLITICO readers, I, your humble conservative servant, have put together a ‘Who is the Real RINO?’ test.”

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