WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is leading the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls, supported by 29 percent of respondents in a poll released Friday.
Unannounced candidate former Sen. Fred Thompson is close behind with 22 percent, according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is a distant third with 16 percent, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 12 percent support.
Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee follow with 3 percent each; Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Tom Tancredo of Colorado with 2 percent; and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson with 1 percent.
However, if former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joins the race, Giuliani's support would drop slightly, to 27 percent, and Thompson's to 19 percent, poll results showed. Gingrich would have 12 percent support, the survey found.
Forty-four percent of the 357 registered voters who describe themselves as Republican or independents leaning Republican said they believe Giuliani is the most likable among the GOP candidates, and another 44 percent said they believe he has the best chance of beating the Democratic nominee come November 2008.
And 35 percent said they believe Giuliani is a strong leader, with 30 percent saying he is qualified to be president. On those questions, McCain comes in second place, with 20 percent and 29 percent, respectively.
Asked which candidate is most honest, 22 percent picked Giuliani, 18 percent selected McCain and Thompson.
The poll, which had a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, was conducted by telephone Monday through Wednesday. E-mail to a friend