Paul nets first win, but not in del­e­gates

V.I., Wyo. tal­lies dis­pro­por­tional

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Rep. Ron Paul won his first vic­tory of the Re­pub­li­can pri­mary sea­son over the week­end, but fell short in sev­eral tests of his del­e­gate-hoard­ing strat­egy, and the can­di­date him­self hinted to re­porters that he is “sus­pi­cious” of fraud in some of the vote-count­ing.

The Texas con­gress­man won the pop­u­lar vote in the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, nip­ping for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney and notch­ing his first win. But Mr. Rom­ney bested him in the del­e­gate count, 7to-1, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal GOP.

And in Wy­oming, Mr. Paul had won 21 per­cent of the vote among cau­cus-go­ers last month, but on Satur­day, when the del­e­gates elected at those cau­cuses met to di­vide up the final tally of del­e­gates to the na­tional con­ven­tion, Mr. Paul’s team walked way with just one of the 12 slots avail­able.

Mr. Paul has largely avoided pop­u­lar-vote pri­maries and in­stead banked on cau­cuses to try to win del­e­gates. In many of those states, he has come in sec­ond or third in ac­tual vot­ing at the precinct level, but has pre­dicted he would end up with the most del­e­gates be­cause his sup­port­ers were more com­mit­ted to show­ing up at county and state con­ven­tions.

“The del­e­gate hunt is on,” he told re­porters as he cam­paigned over the week­end.

Lo­cal party off icials say his team is mak­ing ex­ten­sive ef­forts to win over un­de­cided del­e­gates at county and state con­ven­tions, and is push­ing his own com­mit­ted sup­port­ers to show up as the process plays out.

In Iowa this week­end, where del­e­gates elected at the Jan. 3 precinct cau­cuses met at countylevel con­ven­tions, Paul sup­port­ers reg­u­larly clashed with GOP of­fi­cials over the right to be seated or to try to change pro­ce­dures.

Mr. Paul, mak­ing his sec­ond run for the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, has im­proved his vote to­tal over 2008 in ev­ery state so far ex­cept for Idaho, which switched from a pri­mary to a cau­cus, de­press­ing turnout for all the can­di­dates.

But he trails ri­vals Mr. Rom­ney, Rick San­to­rum and Newt Gin­grich in ev­ery del­e­gate count so far, in­clud­ing the Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s of­fi­cial “pledged del­e­gate” count re­leased last week.

Judg­ing by the crowds that are turn­ing out for his ral­lies, he should be do­ing even bet­ter.

In Idaho, where the Paul cam­paign claims more than 12,000 peo­ple turned out to their ral­lies in Fe­bru­ary and March, he won only slightly more than 8,000 votes in the state’s cau­cuses last week.

That same pat­tern played out in cau­cuses rang­ing from Colorado to Min­nesota to Washington state, where his cam­paign said his six ral­lies drew more than 7,250 peo­ple, ac­count­ing for more than half of the nearly 12,600 votes he ended up gar­ner­ing.

Speak­ing to re­porters in Mis­souri this week­end, Mr. Paul strug­gled for an ex­pla­na­tion.

“Some­times we get thou­sands of peo­ple like this, and we’ll take them to the polling booth, and we won’t win the cau­cuses,” he said. “A lot of our sup­port­ers are very sus­pi­cious about it.”

He said he doesn’t have proof of ac­tual fraud, but said it’s a pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion.

“It’s that kind of stuff that makes you sus­pi­cious, be­cause quite frankly, I don’t think the other can­di­dates are get­ting crowds like this,” he said.

Mr. Paul’s cam­paign promised an­other “mas­sive town hall” in Illi­nois on Wed­nes­day at the Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Ur­banaCham­paign. Many of his big­gest events have been as­so­ci­ated with col­leges.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­den­tial hopeful Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Re­pub­li­can, mak­ing his sec­ond run for the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, has im­proved his vote to­tal over 2008 in ev­ery state so far ex­cept for Idaho, which switched from a pri­mary to a cau­cus.

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