Romney Seeks W.V. Momentum
By Glenn Kessler
CHARLESTON, W.V. -- Hoping for some early momentum on Super Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney this morning sought support from a GOP convention that will award 18 delegates to the national convention. The roll call of 1,200 delegates will take place before noon, meaning the results will be reported before polls close in primary states.
Romney, who flew through the night from California to arrive here for the convention, already has won commitments from the state's three "super-delegates." The remaining nine of the state's delegates to the national convention will be awarded in May to the winner of a primary vote in each of the state's nine congressional districts.
This is the first time West Virginia Republicans have awarded delegates through a convention, a process that Romney's West Virginia senior advisor John McCutcheon likened to the "slow drill school of dentistry." Each of the state's 52 counties held conventions or elections to select delegates to the convention, which was held in Charleston's civic center.
Romney began the day with 280 committed delegates, more than any other candidate.
"No one has had a ground game better than Gov. Romney," McCutcheon said, a sentiment echoed by other campaigns. This was Romney's fourth visit to the state, and campaign staff has been working in the state since 2006, he said.
Rep. Ron Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also planned to address the convention. McCain was sending a surrogate speaker.
"I am the only candidate who can stop John McCain," Romney told his committed delegates at a breakfast meeting. "I am getting an extraordinary groundswell of support."
Melodie Ann Williams, a 52-year-old real estate investor and a delegate from the state's eastern panhandle region, was attending the convention in a flag shirt adorned with a flag pins in the shape of a heart and Mickey Mouse.
Williams said she had recently settled on Romney because she viewed him as the "most conservative" candidate. McCain tempted her because her son had served in Afghanistan and she liked McCain's military background. "But he seemed too much of a left-leaning person," she said. "I didn't appreciate it when he would go against the Bush administration."
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