WASHINGTON Fred Thompson, an actor and former
senator who has not formally entered the 2008 White House race,
leads Republican presidential contenders for the first time,
according to a Rasmussen poll released on Tuesday.
Thompson held a statistically insignificant one percentage
point lead over former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the
national poll of likely Republican primary voters, 28 percent
to 27 percent. It was the first time all year anybody but
Giuliani has led the 10-strong Republican field.
Thompson and Giuliani were tied at 24 percent each in the
poll one week ago.
Some other polls show Thompson moving into a solid second
place in the Republican race, ahead of established candidates
like Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov.
Thompson formed a "testing the waters" presidential
committee in his home state of Tennessee earlier this month,
and is expected to formally enter the race in July.
His candidacy has been fueled by Republican dissatisfaction
with the current field, particularly among conservatives.
The star of numerous Hollywood movies and the "Law and
Order" television series served eight years in the Senate.
The Rasmussen poll of 618 likely Republican primary voters,
conducted on June 11-14, had a margin of error of plus or minus
four percentage points.