If it were only up to the Tea Partiers, and who knows still, Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann would be back in the first-tier of presidential candidates heading into the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3.
An informal poll released Monday by the Tea Party Patriots, which bills itself as the nation’s largest Tea Party organization, ranked Newt Gingrich first and Bachmann second following a weekend Tea Party Patriots Presidential Tele-Forum.
The surprise may be the top finish for Gingrich, the consumate Washington insider, in a forum of Tea Partiers animated by outsider angst. Then again, he' s not Mitt Romney.
The finish, in order: Gingrich, 31 percent, Bachmann 28 percent, Romney 20 percent, Rick Santorum 16 percent, Ron Paul 3 percent, Rick Perry 2 percent and Jon Huntsman 0.3 percent.
The Tea Party forum featured questions by local coordinators of Bachmann, Gingrich, Romney and Santorum.  More than 23,000 Tea Party activists from across the country participated in the call on Sunday night and many voted on the line following presentations by participating candidates.

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