In Maine, Paul vies to extend Romney losing streak

Published: Saturday, Feb. 11 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Romney and his allies spent a combined $15.9 million in Florida. But his campaign had placed only a small cable television ad buy airing Friday and Saturday, at a cost of several thousand dollars. But he sent surrogates to the state in recent days and hosted a telephone town hall in addition to Friday's campaign stop.

Maine's caucuses are spread over a week.

The state party will announce a winner Saturday evening, although a few contests will be held Sunday. Washington County, in the state's far eastern region, postponed its caucuses until Feb. 18 because of a snow storm, disappointing some participants.

Helen Saccone, who's from Lubec, said she understands that weather could create problems, but that those who wanted to caucus should have had the chance. "It's Maine. Life goes on when it snows in Maine," she said.

The rural region is likely stronger territory for Paul, who has been more active than Romney in the state.

Paul did reasonably well in Maine four years ago, earning more than 18 percent of the vote, and his support has grown since then in a state whose electorate isn't afraid to support candidates outside the mainstream.

The tea party, hardly a Romney ally, has exerted significant influence, taking over the GOP platform and helping to elect Gov. Paul LePage.

"Paul needs to show he can win somewhere," GOP strategist Phil Musser said. "My sense is a win in Maine for Romney would be nice. But to be honest, Ron Paul is camped out up there and he needs to win one."

The timing of the contest also raises the stakes.

The narrative coming out of Maine will likely reverberate in the political echo chamber for weeks, given there isn't another election until Arizona and Michigan host their contests Feb. 28. Romney hopes that narrative will be more positive than it has been over the last week, arguably his worst of the year.

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