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ND: Only Ron Paul Made the Trek

By Josh White
With snow falling and temperatures in the low teens, Ron Paul campaigned in North Dakota a day before the state's caucuses in what party officials said was the only appearance in the state by a candidate who is still on the ballot.

Paul was far behind Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in an October straw poll by the Republican party -- Paul had 4 percent of the vote to Romney's 29 percent and Giuliani's 22 percent -- but has launched a grassroots effort to claim at least some of North Dakota's 26 delegates.

Giuliani was the only other candidate to make his way to North Dakota, visiting in November, and had made serious efforts to woo voters in the frozen tundra there. Romney's son and wife have both stumped for him there, and increasing attention to the caucuses in Bismarck has spawned a spat between the Romney and McCain camps, with each side accusing the other of using automated attack phone calls.

Deb Seminary, communications director for the North Dakota Republican Party, said voters in the state are focusing on keeping people in the state by creating jobs in the burgeoning energy industry. But, she said, few candidates have been speaking directly to North Dakota's interests.

"The candidates have a presence here," Seminary said. "There are a lot of yard signs up and a lot of phone calls."

Barack Obama, who has paid staff in North Dakota, started running television ads there last week in an effort to secure the Democrats' 21 delegates there, among the smallest delegate offerings in the country.

About 15,500 voters turned out for both parties caucuses in 2004. John Kerry was the choice of more than half of the 10,500 Democrats who voted. President Bush ran uncontested. GOP officials expect this year's turnout to double the 5,000 people who voted four years ago. Voters won't have to brave the snow on Tuesday, with temperatures expected to reach a balmy high of 12 degrees.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 4, 2008; 8:09 PM ET
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