Romney Wins Maine Caucuses, CPAC Straw Poll

Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win over Ron Paul in Maine's Republican caucuses on Saturday, as well as a second win in The Washington Times/CPAC Presidential Straw Poll of conservative activists.

The wins provide Romney's campaign a much-needed boost after three straight losses earlier this week. But the former Massachusetts governor's margin of victory over rival Paul was so slim it all but guaranteed scrutiny of the party's decision not to count the results of caucuses scheduled later in February.

At a state party gathering in Portland, state Republican Chairman Charlie Webster announced Romney had won with 2,190 votes compared to 1,996 for 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.

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Webster said any caucus results that come in after Saturday wouldn't be counted no matter how close the vote turned out to be.

Maine's caucuses began February 4 and continued throughout the week. But the results announced Saturday accounted for just 83 percent of all precincts in the state. Several communities elected to hold their caucuses at a later date.

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

Meanwhile, Paul says he wishes all the Maine caucuses would have met on Saturday. The Texas congressman is calling the outcome a virtual tie, noting that he lost by a narrow margin and some caucuses weren't included in the count.

The Maine GOP chairman declared rival Mitt Romney the victor in Maine even though several places in the state won't hold their caucuses until next weekend.

Paul addressed his supporters in Maine and telling them not to be discouraged. He said the momentum behind his candidacy will continue and he's pledging not to go away. He also says -- in his words -- that the revolution continues.

Romney has also won The Washington Times/CPAC Presidential Straw Poll of conservative activists.

The former Massachusetts governor is favored as the Republican presidential nominee by 38 percent of the 3,408 respondents. Rivals Rick Santorum drew 31 percent, and Newt Gingrich was favored by 15 percent. All three candidates addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday.

Romney had encouraged students to attend the convention, and 44 percent of them participated in the poll.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 12 percent. He won the straw poll in the previous two years. Paul did not attend the conference to campaign in Maine.

GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said the poll was held online for the first time this year and produced the second highest turnout in the conference's history.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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