UPDATE: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won the Nevada caucuses with about 43% of the vote. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in second with 25% and Rep. Ron Paul had 19%. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum came in last with 12% of the vote.
Ron Paul may have placed a lot of his chips in the Nevada caucus, but the Republican presidential hopeful has his eyes set on winning delegates in upcoming contests.
Minnesota is up next on the primary calendar, and Paul wasted no time heading to the North Star State while Nevadans were still caucusing on Saturday. The Texas congressman spoke to about 700 supporters at a town hall meeting at Mayo High School in Rochester on Saturday morning, expressing hope that the energy he built in Nevada will carry through to the rest of the primary season.
"The one thing that is on our side is [that] the American people are waking up," Paul told an enthusiastic crowd, according The Associated Press.
Paul is taking on a slightly different strategy than his rivals. The campaign hopes to round up as many delegates as possible in the long term, rather than focusing on actual wins. Therefore, Paul isn't spending much time or money on winner-takes-all primaries like Florida, where Mitt Romney scooped up all 50 delegates with his 46.4 percent victory. Although the former Massachusetts governor is now in the lead with 87 delegates, as calculated by The Wall Street Journal, Paul's campaign is betting that slow-and-steady wins the race.
Four states in, Paul has accumulated only four delegates, and the campaign has made it clear that it plans to forge ahead until the convention. A candidate needs 1,144 delegate votes to earn the nomination.
"Our goal is to win. And you win by getting the maximum number of delegates," Paul said at a news conference on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. "I'm delighted that Nevada makes it fair, where we can compete for the votes. When we get the delegates and build up momentum, we can win."
Nevada is one of Paul's strongest states. Four years ago, the libertarian came in a distant second behind Mitt Romney in Nevada, with 13.7% of the vote and four delegates (Romney won with 51% and 18 delegates, due largely in part to the help of Nevada's significant Mormon population). Nevertheless, Paul had a strong showing among independents.
This year's Nevada caucus looks positive for Paul as well. A Public Policy Poll released Friday shows Mitt Romney in a steep lead with 50 percent of the GOP vote in Nevada, but Paul is significantly ahead of Rick Santorum, who is in third place.
In a state that legalizes gambling and regulated brothels in some counties, Nevadans support Paul for his libertarian stances. Last month, the Texan congressman gained attention when the 'bunnies' at the infamous brothel Moonlit Bunny Ranch declared that they were 'pimpin' for Paul' and collecting donations for the candidate in the hope that he would legalize prostitution nationwide.
Paul also earned popularity among waiters and other service-industry workers for proposing an end to taxing tips. He spent $350,000 on television ads -- almost as much as the deep-pocketed Romney, who spent $371,000, according to Smart Media Group.
Paul will be making several stops in Minnesota ahead of Tuesday's caucuses. He swung through Colorado last week, which also has its caucus on Tuesday, and which has 33 delegates. Like Nevada, turnout of independents and other Paul supporters will be important to his success.
"[We] rely on each of you finding a couple of your friends, neighbors, [and] family members who will come out to caucus with you. Turnout is everything," said Minnesota campaign chairman Marianne Stebbins, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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