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Rasmussen National:McCain 27%, Romney 25%

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In the first national results since Fred dropped out, Romney has closed within 2 points of McCain in Rasmussen’s tracking poll.

It will become a two person race unless Rudy’s Florida strategy pulls out an upset win Tuesday.

In Florida, McCain is helped a bit by the late endorsement of popular Governor Crist, butthe Arizona maverick’s attempt to distort Romney’s Iraq position will backfire as Republican voters quickly agree with Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff’s assessment:

John McCain has accused Mitt Romney of having “wanted to set a date for withdrawal [from Iraq] that would have meant disaster.” McCain apparently is referring to a statement Romney made last April in which he assumed President Bush and the head of the Iraqi government might discuss timetables and troop levels in Iraq. I don’t think Romney’s statement fairly can be construed as advocating setting a date for our withdrawal.

The attempt to smear Romney as a defeatist in the mold of the Democrats is not the sort of tactic that will endear McCain to the Republican base he is attempting to court, even as McCain struggles to overcome the renewed focus on the McCain-Kennedy immigration fiasco, a focus triggered by the story about the role of Juan Hernandez in the McCain campaign. The spotlight on Hernandez and the growing importance of the economy to the campaign must have provoked McCain’s outburst, but panic in a campaign is never a confidence builder, and McCain’s raw attempt to distort Romney’s strong support of victory in Iraq will undermine confidence in McCain’s ability to unite a party he has never much cared for in the first place.

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