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Published March 06, 2012, 10:13 PM

Ron Paul Fails to Get 1st Win in ND Caucuses

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Ron Paul waited outside in chilly North Dakota for several minutes without a coat Tuesday, fully expecting a much warmer reception from caucus goers in a state he thought might provide his first victory in the Republican presidential race.

By: Dave Kolpack, Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Ron Paul waited outside in chilly North Dakota for several minutes without a coat Tuesday, fully expecting a much warmer reception from caucus goers in a state he thought might provide his first victory in the Republican presidential race.

But despite his recent trips here and a campaign organization conducive to small-state caucuses, the Texas congressman left town with yet another loss.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum added North Dakota to a handful of victories that kept his candidacy alive on Super Tuesday, the most delegate-rich night of the primary season.

Paul, the only one of the four GOP candidates to appear in the state on election day, was welcomed with plenty of fanfare.

With red, white and blue balloons behind him and a woman holding up her baby in a handmade Ron Paul T-shirt, the Texas congressman asked caucus-goers in the state's largest city if they voted for him and whether he was going to win. The answer was a resounding "yes" on both counts.

"Make sure they hear our message all the way to D.C.," Paul shouted over cheers.

Although Paul was expected to stay in Fargo for a victory speech, he instead left for the airport after his 20-minute pep talk. Some supporters who waited around until the vote totals were officially announced were disappointed and stunned by the result.

"I'm not happy about it," said Nick Saumelson, a 17-year-old high school student from Fargo participating in his first political caucus. "With the turnout we had, it's just hard to believe."

Paul told The Associated Press in an interview before his speech that he has long felt a connection to North Dakota, even before back-to-back presidential campaigns. He has talked to several educational groups, including a fundraising speech in November for the North Dakota Policy Council, which bills itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit free market think tank.

"I've spent a lot of time here and they seem to appreciate it very much," Paul said.

Paul's throng of supporters included many 20-somethings, some of whom chatted with him outside and asked him to sign posters while the candidate waited for sponsors of other candidates to finish their pitches. Inside, Paul's people felt the need to ask the crowd to be polite while other speakers were talking.

Asked about the number of young people on his side, Paul said those voters are independent and "like to rock the boat."

"These young people like freedom, that's all I know," Paul said.

Samuelson, who will turn 18 before the election, brought three of Paul's books to the end-of-the-evening announcement, hoping to have them signed. He left when he found out Paul lost.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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