Texas Gov. Rick Perry gestures during a campaign rally Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010 in Cypress, Texas. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Gov. Rick Perry said Friday he intends to win the Republican nomination for governor outright, but if he's forced into a runoff with U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison after the March 2 primary, "it's not the end of the world."
A recent poll conducted for five Texas newspapers shows that while Perry could win the nomination, he could face a runoff with Hutchison.
"That is my intention, is to do it without a runoff," Perry said, adding that "it's not the end of the world" if that does not happen.
"We will at the end of the day lay out a good, solid reason for people to vote for us," Perry said after speaking to about 400 people at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon. "It's pretty simple for most people: Do you want to go with the Washington crowd and their mentality of `spend it all, spend it now' or do you want to stick with fiscal, conservative leadership that they've seen for the last six, eight years?"
According to the poll, Perry leads with 45 percent support among likely Republican voters, with Hutchison at 29 percent.
Republican activist Debra Medina, whose campaign has attracted insurgent Tea Party voters, was at 17 percent, and 8 percent of voters were undecided.
The Feb. 2-10 telephone survey conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates Inc. polled 1,508 registered voters, including 464 likely Republican voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff between the top two finishers would be April 13.
In Houston on Friday, Hutchison called on supporters to use Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and even old-fashioned snail mail to get the word out about the urgency to vote in the primary.
Speaking to a select group of largely female supporters, Hutchison -- with former first lady Barbara Bush at her side calling for people to vote against Perry -- said it was time for Perry to step aside and called for a two-term limit for the gubernatorial post. Perry is running for a third term in office.
"Eight years is enough," Hutchison said, but dodged a question by The Associated Press about the poll numbers.
"The polls that count are getting ready to happen so I don't think it makes sense to focus on the ones that don't," she said.
Associated Press Writer Ramit Plushnick-Masti contributed to this report from Houston.