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Mitt Romney wins Maine caucuses

Updated: 2012-02-12 10:22
( Xinhua)

Mitt Romney wins Maine caucuses

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks a Republican Caucus in Sanford, Maine, Feb 11, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - The Republican Party in US state of Maine announced Saturday that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney had won the state's caucuses, giving his campaign a much needed bounce after embarrassing losses earlier this week.

According to state Republican Chairman Charlie Webster, Romney won 2,190 votes, 39 percent in the state's non-binding caucuses, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose campaign has a strong presence in the state, got 1,996 votes, about 36 percent. Only 194 votes separate the two candidates.

Behind the two frontrunners, Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, got 18 percent. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, got 6 percent.

Maine's caucuses began on Feb 4 and runs throughout the week. But the results announced Saturday accounted for just 83 percent of all precincts in the state. Webster said any caucus results that come in after Saturday wouldn't be counted no matter how close the vote turned out to be.

Although the Maine caucuses were non-binding and being described as a "beauty contest," both Romney and Paul badly need a win here. Romney lost Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota earlier this week to Santorum, handing over the political momentum and risks being seen as a fragile frontrunner. Romney, who originally hadn't scheduled any event, made appearances in Maine earlier in the day, and that might have helped him.

Paul, on the other hand, hasn't won any state in the nomination campaign, and commentators have been saying if the Libertarian-leaning Paul can't win in Maine, a state with an independent streak, his campaign's viability would be seriously questioned.

In order to win Maine, Paul's campaign had been putting in a lot of work here, and the candidate himself skipped the annual conference of Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week to campaign in the state.

The GOP will hold primaries in Arizona and Michigan later this month, and 11 states will hold primaries on Super Tuesday on March 6, but only 10 will announce results, as Wyoming's caucuses will run from March 6-10.