Former Masschusetts governor Mitt Romney last Friday told reporters he spoke for "the Republican wing of the Republican party," echoing a line made famous by Democrats Howard Dean and Paul Wellstone. The quip prompted an uproar among his competitors for the Republican nomination.
But the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that Romney's message hasn't quite sunk in with the party faithful.
Just over one in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say Romney "best reflects the Republican Party's values," but more say so of frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson and Arizona Senator John McCain.
Among conservative Republicans, three in 10 say Thompson is the party's purest representative, twice as many as say Romney. A quarter feel McCain best fills that role, 18 percent say it's Giuliani.
Those who are closely following the presidential race give an edge to McCain on this question: 29 percent say the Senator from Arizona while 24 percent cite Thompson. Giuliani and Romney are about even with 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
The poll also asked people to name the candidate they trust most to handle six issues key to the upcoming primaries and caucuses. Romney had a lead on none of the six. While he runs about even with Thompson and McCain on handling domestic issues, on foreign policy matters, he does not reach double digits.
Q: Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust most to handle...
Giuliani McCain Romney Thompson Health care 33 16 17 18 Social issues 41 15 14 18 The economy 36 18 13 20 Immigration issues 34 21 10 16 The war in Iraq 37 31 5 16 The U.S. campaign against terrorism 45 27 4 13
Results among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. For methodology and full question wording, click here.