Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney claimed victory Saturday in caucuses in the US Pacific territory of Guam, saying he had secured the support of all nine delegates at stake there.
“The people of Guam have always stood bravely for America and the values we hold dear,” Romney said in a statement. “I am honored to have won the Guam caucuses, an important milestone in my quest to restore America to the principles and practices that made us great.”
All 251 delegates from the island’s 19 villages backed Romney, who sent his son Matt to Guam and the nearby Northern Marianas Islands to campaign on his behalf.
“I’m obviously thrilled that it’s a unanimous decision,” Matt Romney said.
Guam, which is to host 4,700 US Marines being transferred from Okinawa, sees the military build-up as an economic salvation, and Matt Romney noted his father was “very much in favor of having a strong military.”
The Marines who took Guam in a bloody 1944 World War II battle reinstated the island as a “non-governing US territory,” meaning its 180,000 population enjoys US citizenship but cannot vote in US presidential elections.
However, they can vote for the delegates sent to the party conventions and “our votes count especially in a close process of the presidential candidate nomination,” said Guam Governor Edward Calvo.
Calvo, who will lead the nine delegates to the Republican National Convention in August, said it was important for the island to see “how much enthusiasm” the candidates have for Guam issues.
The result of the Republican vote in the Northern Marianas Islands was not due until late Saturday but Islands Governor Benigno Fitial announced on the eve of the Republican caucus he was supporting Romney.
Fitial is also the Republican Party chairman in the Northern Marianas and will be among their nine delegates at the national convention.