PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Mitt Romney hoped to avoid a fourth straight election setback Saturday in the GOP presidential nomination race, but feisty Ron Paul could extend that losing streak with a victory in Maine’s caucuses.
Romney, the one-time front-runner, stepped up efforts to court Republicans in recent days, reflecting growing concern about the outcome of what has become a two-man race in Maine.
Neither Newt Gingrich nor Rick Santorum, who won in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday, is actively competing in Maine, where party officials planned to declare a winner Saturday evening.
Romney wants Maine voters to help in his struggle to convince his party’s conservative wing that he should be the candidate they back. The former Massachusetts governor said in a Washington speech Friday that he was “a severely conservative Republican governor.”
Paul, a libertarian-minded Texas congressman, is fighting to prove he’s capable of winning at all, particularly in a state where his campaign has focused considerable attention. He has scored a few top three finishes in other early voting states, but his strategy is based on winning some of the smaller caucus contests where his passionate base of support can have an oversized impact.
There is no reliable polling to gauge the state of the Maine election, which drew fewer than 5,500 voters from across the state four years ago. But Romney’s recent activities suggest a victory is by no means assured, despite the natural advantages of being a former New England governor competing in a state he won with more than 50 percent of the vote four years ago.
He changed his schedule Friday night to add personal appearances at two caucuses Saturday; he had planned to take the day off.
Read more at the Associated Press.