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Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that a frontrunner has yet to emerge among potential Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential race.

“I have never seen a more wide-open race for the Republican nomination,” the Ohio Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we all know that nature abhors a vacuum. Candidates, I expect, will continue to come forward.”

In describing the qualities necessary to defeat President Barack Obama, Boehner said, “I think we’re going to need someone who can paint a vision of the future that takes into consideration that we need a smaller, less costly and more accountable government in Washington, D.C.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he’s still on the lookout for a GOP presidential candidate.

“At the end of the day, I’m looking for the most conservative person who is electable. And that person is yet to emerge,” the South Carolina Republican said. “Mitt Romney is probably the frontrunner among traditional candidates. Ron Paul is well-organized, has a lot of energy behind his ideas. But whether or not he could win a general election, I think, is a big if.”

Rep. Paul (R-Texas) was the winner Saturday of the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll of potential GOP presidential candidates, with 30 percent of the vote. Second-place finisher Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, took 23 percent.

“I think President Obama is beatable, but we have got to nominate someone that can win over independent voters, who do want smaller government and less spending but understand there is a role for government,” Graham said. “So over the next few months, we’ll see who can pick that mantle up and run with it, the most electable conservative. No one quite knows yet.”

As for voters who continue to question whether Obama was born in the United States and his Christian faith, Boehner said he shouldn’t tell Americans what to believe.

“It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think,” he said. “Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said he was born there. That’s good enough for me. The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word.”
He also said Americans have the right to expect the highest ethical standards from Members of Congress. Rep. Chris Lee (N.Y.) abruptly resigned last week hours after the married Republican was accused of pursuing a date with a woman on Craigslist.

The Speaker declined to discuss the conversation he had with Lee about the scandal.

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