WASHINGTONRepublican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be in Maine Friday for the first time this election for some final hour campaigning before the state GOP caucuses conclude Saturday, and GOP rival Ron Paul may be headed back to Maine for a second campaign swing.

The former Massachusetts governor will be in the Portland area for a rally at about 6 p.m. on Friday, the Romney campaign confirmed this morning. The location being discussed is Portland Yacht Services on Fore Street.

Ron Paul, the other contender in what looks to be a two-candidate race to win Maine’s week-long, nonbinding presidential preference poll, also may be headed back to the state for the second time, Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said in a phone interview this morning.

Webster said he doesn’t believe victories Tuesday night by GOP candidate Rick Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri will change the complexion of the Maine caucuses. Neither Santorum nor GOP candidate Newt Gingrich has been to Maine or set up a campaign organization in the state, Webster said.

Webster said that in his travels around the state to individual caucus locations he has encountered several Santorum and Gingrich supporters who said they would vote for Romney or Paul “because that is what it is coming down to” in Maine.

“People realize the choice is Romney or Paul in Maine,” Webster said. “Romney’s people said he would be here Friday. I have been told there is a chance Paul will be here again, too. It is obviously a race between Paul and Romney.”

Paul campaigned in Maine for two days last month, attracting large crowds. Romney has not yet been to the state, but his son Tagg attended a caucus event last week in Augusta, and other Romney surrogates have been in the state, as well.

The Paul campaign could not be reached for comment this morning.

Maine’s presidential straw poll is the first step to select the state’s 24 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Overall, 1,144 delegates are needed nationally to capture the GOP presidential nomination.

The Maine GOP is keeping results from individual caucuses secret leading up to an event Saturday evening at the Portland Regency when the winner will be announced.

Analysts have said they doubt the Maine caucuses will have a major impact on the outcome of the overall GOP presidential primary race, but Romney undoubtedly would like to reassert the frontrunner mantle he grabbed following victories in Florida and Nevada with a victory in Maine.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected]

 

Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

 


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