By Michael Finnegan, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- Republicans antsy for a conservative standard-bearer in the presidential race have begun to rally behind Fred Thompson, propelling the former Tennessee senator to within hailing distance of the lead for the party's nomination, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll has found.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani holds first place in the survey, with support from 27% of the Republicans and independents who said they planned to vote in the party's 2008 primaries.
But Thompson, an actor who plays a prosecutor on NBC's "Law and Order," polled 21%. Indications are he will join the race within the next month.
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