Politics 2012: Battle brews in Peace Garden State

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  March 5, 2012 at 8:29 AM
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Ron Paul, who just missed claiming a win in the Maine caucuses to Mitt Romney, may have an opportunity to notch a win when North Dakota Republicans caucus Tuesday.

"Of the Super Tuesday states, we have been focusing on Idaho, Alaska and North Dakota, which are all caucus states where we have the highest likelihood of gaining a lot of delegates," Gary Howard, Paul's campaign spokesman, told U.S. News and World Report.

GOP strategist Ron Bonjean said Paul was shrewd to focus time and attention on caucus states, which attract large numbers of Paul supporters and allow them to leverage their enthusiasm into more votes for the libertarian congressman.

"He has shown strength in those Western states," Bonjean says. "The more delegates he earns there, the more powerful he becomes, even if he doesn't win."

The reason he wins even if he doesn't finish first is because each delegate Paul picks up gives him more leverage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer, Bonjean told U.S. News.

"Paul measures success differently than the opposing campaigns," Bonjean said. "His not winning doesn't seem to stop him from staying optimistic."

While some pundits give Paul a chance to win in the Peace Garden State, Romney showed he isn't ceding an inch to the Texas congressman, traveling to North Dakota and picking up the endorsement of Sen. John Hoeven, the most popular Republican elected official in the state.

Paul outraised his 2012 rivals in North Dakota, collecting about $40,000 in the state, more than three times the $11,500 former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has raised in the state, USA Today reported

Front-runners Romney and Rick Santorum raised only $7,000 and $765, respectively, Federal Election Commission documents indicated.

Much of Paul's money was raised through his hugely successful "money bomb" fundraising efforts that so far have brought millions of dollars to his campaign this cycle. Paul also successfully used money bombs -- a frenetic fundraising campaign for a specified time that combines traditional and Internet-based fundraising appeals -- in his unsuccessful presidential bid in 2008.

North Dakota's 28 delegates will remain unbound until the party's state convention.

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