After grousing for months, Republicans are growing more satisfied with their choices for president and, so far, they like what they’re hearing from the newest candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday found that two-thirds of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are pleased with the party’s presidential field, compared with just half in June. And they’re paying more attention, with 52 percent expressing a “great deal” of interest in the GOP nomination fight — compared with 39 percent earlier this summer — after a period that saw Perry enter the race and Michele Bachmann win a test vote in Iowa, the lead-off caucus state, threatening Mitt Romney’s standing at the top of the pack.

The poll shows Perry — who has never run a national campaign and is just now introducing himself to most people — benefiting from wall-to-wall news coverage over the past few weeks as he became a candidate and jostled the until-then sleepy contest. Just 12 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents have a negative impression of the Texas governor. And 63 percent of Republicans view him in a positive light, compared with 33 percent in June.

Beyond that, Republicans didn’t change their impressions much about Romney. Nearly 2 in 3 still view the former Massachusetts governor positively, while just under a quarter view him negatively as he runs a cautious, methodical campaign that’s facing its first true test in Perry.

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