Donald Trump tops new 2012 poll as he steps up outreach to GOP conservatives

Holly Bailey

Donald Trump is gaining more momentum ahead of his potential 2012 presidential run.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out today finds Trump tied with Mike Huckabee atop the field of potential GOP White House contenders. According to the poll, Trump and Huckabee both garner 19 percent support among likely GOP voters. Sarah Palin comes in second, with 12 percent, while Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are tied atthird, with 11 percent support each.

That's a significant drop for Romney, who was at 18 percent support in CNN's poll last month. The poll echoes the findings of a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week that found Trump bouncing into second place among likely contenders, tied with Huckabee.

All of this comes as Trump steps up his 2012 maneuvering, especially among social conservatives who seem unhappy with the current field of GOP contenders.

The New York investor-turned-reality-TV-star talked up his conservative credentials in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody and admitted he's recently had conversations with top evangelical leaders, including former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed and the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins.

As The Ticket reported last month, Reed and Perkins have admitted they are intrigued by Trump's stances against abortion and gay marriage. They've suggested his positions might be enough to overcome negatives with evangelical voters, including Trump's past divorces and his role in the gambling industry.

In an interview with Brody, Trump also discussed his Christian faith, saying he strongly believes in God and saves Bibles that people send him. He said that he became pro-life after witnessing a friend and his wife decide to keep a child that at first they didn't want.

"He ends up having the baby and the baby is the apple of his eye. It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to him," Trump told CBN. "And you know here's a baby that wasn't going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life."

In another position that's sure to gain attention in the GOP, Trump claims in the interview there's a "Muslim problem" in the United States and openly questions whether it's prompted by the teachings in the Koran.

"I'm certainly not an expert, to put it mildly, but there's something there that teaches some very negative vibe…There's a lot of hatred there," he told CBN. "Now I don't know if that's from the Koran, I don't know if that's from someplace else. But there's tremendous hatred out there that I've never seen anything like it."

Still, for all of his obvious attempts to appeal to the GOP's most conservative voters, Trump also suggested that the GOP's focus in 2012 should be on electability, not on finding a candidate who toes the movement line on social issues.

"You know you can't get so caught up on social issues and then put somebody who is wonderful socially but is going to get decimated by Barack Obama," Trump said. "You have to pick somebody that's going to win."

(Photo of Trump: Charles Sykes/AP)