Romney's "island strategy" pays off in delegate race
by Sam Youngman, Chicago Tribune (Excerpts)
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is sparing no effort to win votes in the U.S. territories and commonwealths as he picks up delegates wherever he can, even 8,000 miles away in the Pacific.
In a carefully planned "island strategy," Romney has blunted the effect of a surge by main rival Rick Santorum and stayed way ahead in the months-long, state-by-state fight to win the 1,144 delegates that will seal the Republican nomination.
Despite narrowly losing to Santorum in two high-profile primary votes in the Deep South on Tuesday night, Romney ended up increasing his lead in delegates thanks to less heralded victories in caucuses in the state of Hawaii and American Samoa.
Although exact numbers are hard to come by, Romney's overall lead over Santorum increased by nine delegates to 255 on Tuesday, according to a CNN estimate. Romney had 489 delegates, compared to 234 for Santorum, CNN said.
The island-hopping by Romney's team - including a long Pacific trip by his son Matt last weekend - shows a campaign that is much better organized and funded than those of his rivals, even as the former governor of liberal Massachusetts struggles to convince conservative Republicans he should be the nominee.
The campaign made a decision last year to include the islands in its overall plan, said Rich Beeson, Romney's political director.
AMERICAN SAMOA MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Using American Samoa's results for Tuesday night as an example, Beeson noted that the nine delegates Romney won there are "more delegates than Rick Santorum got in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada combined."
"Looking at it in hindsight, those are pretty valuable delegates," Beeson said.
When Santorum won big in the Kansas caucuses last Saturday, he still finished the weekend's contests down in the count 39 delegates to 35. Of Romney's 39 delegates, 25 were from Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands….
read … Romney’s ‘Island Strategy’