In the wake of would-be Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's victory in Saturday's Maine caucuses, the Ron Paul campaign is raising implications of foul play.
According to the official tally, with 84% of the votes counted, Romney took 39% of that vote, defeating Paul by a narrow margin of 194 votes. In an email sent to supporters late on Saturday, however, Paul campaign manager John Tate noted that the media had called the polling for Romney even before the votes had been fully counted
Tate went on to charge that "in Washington County – where Ron Paul was incredibly strong – the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today. Of course, their excuse for the delay was ‘snow.’ That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches – that turned into nothing more than a dusting – was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight."
“This is MAINE we’re talking about," the email continued. "The GIRL SCOUTS had an event today in Washington County that wasn’t cancelled! And just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top. This is an outrage. But our campaign is in this race to win, and will stay in it to the very end."
The Paul charge comes on the heels of Rick Santorum's insinuation that Romney might have rigged the straw poll at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference. It also follows an unusual situation where Romney was initially declared the winner in the Iowa caucus, only to have the result reversed in Santorum's favor a few weeks later.
The Romney campaign has responded to Santorum's charge with a statement noting that "Rick Santorum has a history of making statements that aren’t grounded in the truth." It has not yet responded to the Ron Paul accusation.
The caucuses are non-binding, and the Paul campaign remains confident of doing well at the state nominating convention in May. However, the ability to claim a victory in Maine carries an important cosmetic benefit for the Romney campaign.
The Washington Examiner, for example, commented on Saturday, "The results allow Romney to avoid the major embarassment had he lost a state in his own backyard, but the small margin will leave lingering questions about the strength of his campaign. In 2008, Romeny won the caucuses with 52 percent and 2,837 votes with roughly the same turnout."
Any shadow cast over the legitimacy of the Ronmey victory in Maine will only intensify those "lingering questions."
Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr