PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Mitt Romney narrowly won Maine’s Republican caucuses, state party officials announced Saturday, providing his campaign with a much-needed boost after three straight losses earlier this week. But the former Massachusetts governor won just a plurality of the Maine vote, suggesting he still has work to do to unite GOP voters behind his candidacy.

At a gathering in Portland, state Republican Chairman Charlie Webster announced Romney had won with 2,190 votes, or 39 percent, compared to 1,996 — about 36 percent — for Ron Paul, the only other candidate to aggressively compete in the state. Rick Santorum received 989 votes and Newt Gingrich won 349, but neither actively campaigned there. Other candidates drew 61 votes.

The totals reflected about 84 percent of the state’s precincts. Webster insisted that any caucus results that come in after Saturday wouldn’t be counted no matter how close the vote.

“Some caucuses decided not to participate in this poll and will caucus after this announcement,” Webster said. “Their results will not be factored in. The absent votes will not be factored into this announcement after the fact.”

Romney’s win, combined with his victory in the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington hours earlier, helped slow an embarrassing skid that began Tuesday when he lost contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado to Santorum. The twin triumphs dampened the perception — for now — that conservatives were unwilling to support Romney.

Romney’s campaign has demonstrated skill and flexibility in winning a big state like Florida and eking out a victory in a low-turnout contest like Maine, where organization and voter contact are essential. Out of Maine’s 258,000 registered Republicans, nearly 5,600 cast ballots in the weeklong contest.

But questions about Romney’s durability as the party’s presumed front-runner persist. Fully 61 percent of Maine voters selected another candidate than Romney in a state practically in his back yard. And Romney’s showing was down considerably from 2008, when he won 51 percent of the vote.

Maine’s caucuses began Feb. 4 and continued throughout the week. Several communities elected to hold their caucuses at a later date.

Caucuses in Washington County that had been scheduled for Saturday were postponed until Feb. 18 because of a major snowstorm that blanketed the region. Earlier, party Executive Director Michael Quatrano said county officials had been told the results of that caucus would not count toward the total.

But Washington County GOP Chairman Chris Gardner objected, saying he had known his county’s tally wouldn’t be included in Saturday’s announcement but didn’t realize it wouldn’t be counted at all. He said he had called state party leaders and “expressed my complete and utter dismay.”

Gardner, a Romney supporter, said the snowstorm had left him no choice but to postpone the caucuses.

“Refusal to reconsider under those circumstances would be extremely disheartening,” he told The Associated Press. “I trust that the party will make the right decision here.”

He added, “We will proceed next Saturday. We’ll have our vote and we are going to submit it to the state party for them to reconsider.”

Many Paul supporters were angry.

“There’s a very good chance that you’ll find that Washington County goes for Ron Paul,” said Mark Willis, a county coordinator for the Paul campaign.

His wife, Violet, added, “We don’t want to be disenfranchised.”

Webster told reporters there were less than 200 votes in Washington County and he doubted that including them would have changed the outcome.

Speaking to supporters in Portland, Paul expressed disappointment that only a portion of the state’s caucuses had counted toward the total.

“I wish all the caucuses had met today,” Paul said, adding, “It’s almost like we could call it a tie.”

Romney was attending a fundraiser in California late Saturday, after visiting caucus sites in Maine earlier in the day, where he pressed voters for their backing.

“I thank the voters of Maine for their support,” Romney said in a statement late Saturday. “I’m committed to turning around America. And I’m heartened to have the support of so many good people in this great state.”

Romney visited two caucus sites Saturday after abandoning plans to take the day off. The change made clear that his campaign could ill-afford another loss.

Romney also held a town hall-style meeting in Maine on Friday night. It was the first time he’d taken voter questions since campaigning in South Carolina last month.

Maine’s nonbinding presidential straw poll had drawn virtually none of the hype surrounding recent contests in Florida and Nevada, where candidates poured millions of dollars into television and radio advertising.

Romney’s campaign had placed only a small cable television ad buy airing Friday and Saturday, at a cost of several thousand dollars. But he sent surrogates to the state in recent days and hosted a telephone town hall in addition to Friday’s campaign stop.

Romney consistently declined to criticize Paul, however.

Instead, he lobbed indirect criticism at Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, and Gingrich, a former House speaker, by repeating intensifying rhetoric of recent days that paints them as tainted Washington insiders.

“I have never spent a day in Washington working,” Romney said. “I expect to go there, get it fixed and then go home.”

He added, “In my home with my mom and dad I learned conservative values. In my faith I learned conservative values. And in my business.”

Romney won 11 delegates in Maine and Texas Rep. Ron Paul won 10, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were shut out.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (13)
  1. Ron Paul or Else! says:

    I believe the article should be called: Maine GOP Chairman meant to say:Romney Stole the Caucuses.

    1. Paul for Pres says:

      Proof of the dumbing down of America,eh? Voting for Romney,yikes,How stupid can this sad shape country get?

    2. Death of Liberty says:


  2. Tom says:

    A slim win is not a much needed boost. Winning by a landslide is giving someone a much needed boost.

  3. fact is says:

    voting for romney is voting for the end of america…he’s another Obummer…end of u.s.a. ,especially if Paul isn’t elected

  4. Veteran says:

    Even if you don’t like Ron Paul, we as a people, need to let the party hacks that we are tired of them rigging elections. spreading lies and stealing resultsfrom other candidates.

    You are told, stop complaining and get involved. The you get involved and the crooks rig the game. Some of these people need to be in jail for racketeering or violationg RICO laws. Let’s show up in force and make sure these things are fair and open, like they are supposed to be

  5. Murph says:

    Any party that has to spout religion to garner votes is unAmerican.False prophets are a scourge upon societies all around the world and here at home too! This country was born a democracy,not a theocracy.The theme don’t tread on me is being trampled,the old ,the weak,sik and the poor set upon once again by the captains of industry and their hired thugs.Repugnantones are empty of all but greed and thirst for power! Don’t call them defenders of the Constitution.Their focus is to keep weakening it and every other law that stands in the way of their thirst. While they sate themselves at the tables,wells and breweries of the rich.They will enslave all those unknowing,unsure and under disection by their cloud and mirror conspiracy! Stop gutting America GOP!

  6. RON PAUL OR ELSE! says:

    “In Washington County – where Ron Paul was incredibly strong – the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today.

    “Of course, their excuse for the delay was ‘snow.’

    “That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches – that turned into nothing more than a dusting -was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight.

    “This is MAINE we’re talking about. The GIRL SCOUTS had an event today in Washington County that wasn’t cancelled!

    “And just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top.

    REPORT ON THIS WCCO!!!!! Romney Thugs Stealing the Election!!!

  7. Murph says:

    The GOP has not yet discovered a law,a right or less fortunate citizen that they could not trample in their blitzkreig to the pot of gold at the end of their rainbow.Further enraging the voter who can see thru their conspiracy with the rich and criminally greedy with whom they bed down with! They continue to show traits of criminality,social bullying and intoxication via power and misinformation. They are a scourge upon the earth whose sole purpose is exploit this land ,the weakest citizens and cloak their deeds in loud misleading rhetoric and slogans.While their true intent is parrted by foriegn interests and criminal subversion and conspiracies with rich tax dodgers with mega ego’s and mega mansions of disgusting displays of wealth most ill gotten,untaxed and in secret foriegn accounts! Aside from that they are good vaudevllians with a mental disorder we call GREED! Their fake religiousness is disgusting!

    1. Murph says:

      Correction {parrted} should have been parented ! Fumble fingers made common by like of food ,heat or hope!

      1. getaclue says:

        Murph…Barry Obamma and Mit Romney are the same.You haven’t figuered out the faCADAL left/right paradigm yet?They have the same corporate masters,where their allmighty dollar is more important than the lives of the citizens.

  8. DEEP says:

    LIARS! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! “Give me liberty or give me death!” -Patrick Henry GO RON PAUL 2012!

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