The Republican front-runner Mitt Romney pulled out of a political tailspin Saturday by winning both Maine’s caucuses and the CPAC straw poll, four days after losing three contests to former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.
With eighty-four percent of the precincts reporting the state Republican Chairman Charlie Webster called the election and announced that Mitt Romney had won Maine’s Caucus with thirty-nine percent of the vote (2,190), narrowly defeating Ron Paul’s thirty-six percent of the vote (1,996). Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum received eighteen percent of the vote, while Newt Gingrich, who did not campaign in the state, received six percent of the vote.
After announcing the results in Portland Webster added that “Some caucuses decided not to participate in this poll and will caucus after this announcement,” and because of this “Their results will not be factored in. The absent votes will not be factored into this announcement after the fact.”
Webster’s decision angered members of Maine’s Republican Party and some of the presidential candidates.
Chris Gardner, chairman of the Washington County GOP and a Romney supporter, was forced to postpone the county’s caucuses due to bad weather said he knew that his county’s votes wouldn’t be included in Saturday’s results, but assumed they would be included once all of the votes were tallied. “Refusal to reconsider under those circumstances would be extremely disheartening,” he said, and then added that “I trust that the party will make the right decision here. 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.”
Mark Willis, a county coordinator for the Ron Paul campaign believes that “There’s a very good chance that you’ll find that Washington County goes for Ron Paul.”
“I wish all the caucuses met today,” Paul told a large group of supporters in Portland. He said that the margin of victory was so small that “it’s almost like we could call it a tie,” and he believes that once the Maine delegates are finally assigned that “we will control the Maine caucus when we go to Tampa” (where the Republican convention will be held in August).
This win follows another Romney victory, CPAC’s (Conservative Political Action Committee) straw poll vote, earlier in the day. Romney has been trying to wrap up the nomination, but has struggled to win over the conservative base.
Sarah Palin, a self-professed conservative and Tea Party proponent, has called for an extended political battle in the selection process for the Republican nominee. She took the stage immediately following the announcement of CPAC’s straw poll results and received the loudest applause of the entire conference, beating out all of the speakers, including all of the presidential candidates. “I believe that the competition has got to keep going,” Palin said to a jubilant audience.
“We’re hearing now, we’ve all heard from these experts — ‘We’ve got to name our nominee right now, wrap it up, no debate for you,'” Palin told the crowd, “As if competition weakens our nominee.”
“And in America, we believe that competition strengthens us,” but then added that once a nominee is chosen that all Republicans should “for the sake of our party we must stand united.”
The next primaries will be on February 28th in Arizona and Michigan. Following those contests will be Super Tuesday (on March 6th) in which ten states will be holding either primaries or caucuses.
— Something to think about —
Charlie Webster’s body language appeared to undermine the conviction of his words and have led some to speculate that tampering might have occurred. This harkens back to the 2008 Missouri Republican Primary, in which large swaths of Paul supporters were disenfranchised in order to secure Senator McCain’s nomination.
Could this be why some of the Republican faithful are calling for an extended nominating process?