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Romney leads Iowa Republican field, Paul 2nd, poll finds

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at the Family Table Restaurant
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at the Family Table Restaurant

DES MOINES (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a narrow lead in Iowa over rival Ron Paul with days to go before the state holds the first contest of the 2012 presidential election season, an influential poll found on Saturday.

The Des Moines Register poll of Iowa voters gave former Massachusetts Governor Romney 24 percent support to 22 percent for libertarian U.S. Representative Paul, while social conservative Rick Santorum vaulted into third place with 15 percent and Newt Gingrich was in fourth place at 12 percent.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was behind Gingrich with 11 percent while Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who won Iowa's August straw poll, sagged to 7 percent.

Iowa voters hold caucuses on Tuesday to begin the state-by-state race to determine which Republican they want to send against Democratic President Barack Obama in November.

(Reporting By Steve Holland)

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