Romney back on track with Maine win
Mitt Romney has gotten a sorely needed boost in the rocky race for the Republican presidential nomination, winning a non-binding contest in Maine and a straw poll among conservatives after a trio of unnerving losses.
The former Massachusetts governor edged out Texas congressman Ron Paul by fewer than 200 votes in the Maine caucuses Saturday, and outpolled former senator Rick Santorum in the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Though largely symbolic, those wins spelled relief for a candidate whose frontrunner status was again put in question Tuesday when Santorum scored upset victories in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota.
The results were a blow to Paul, who had hoped to get his first victory of the 2012 campaign, but he told supporters gathered in Portland that he considered the result a near-win.
Despite Romney's wins, however, the Republican race to pick a standard bearer to run against Obama in November remained unsettled.
A prolonged Republican nominating fight would be more likely to hurt Romney and help come-from-behind contenders like Santorum or former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
In the Maine caucuses, Romney won 39 percent of the vote to 36 percent for Paul, who spent much time campaigning in the state even though no delegates were at stake.