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Romney wins low-turnout RI primary

By David Klepper
Associated Press / April 24, 2012
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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Mitt Romney won an easy victory in Rhode Island's low-turnout presidential primary Tuesday, adding more delegates to a growing tally and further cementing his claim on the Republican nomination.

The former Massachusetts governor had 63 percent of Tuesday's vote. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas placed second with 23.8 percent.

Romney, who also swept Tuesday's primaries in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware, was heavily favored to win in Rhode Island. The presumptive GOP nominee racked up endorsements from several top state Republicans in the lead up to the primary.

Voter Frederick Mason said Romney should now be well known to voters and will mount a strong challenge to President Barack Obama in the fall.

"He's going to be the Republican candidate," said Mason, of East Greenwich. "He's a known quantity in these parts. I don't agree with him 100 percent, but he's a good candidate."

Tuesday's voter turnout was low -- 3 percent -- in this heavily Democratic state. Obama stood unchallenged on the Democratic ballot, and Romney's victory was seen by many as a foregone conclusion.

The primary marked the first statewide test of a new law requiring voters to show IDs at the polls. Election officials say a rough survey of polling places found that fewer than 25 voters lacked the necessary identification and were allowed to cast provisional ballots.

Sixteen delegates were up for grabs in the Republican contest. Because delegates are awarded proportionally in Rhode Island, Romney won 12 and Paul four. Three unbound delegates have already committed to Romney.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 6 percent of Tuesday's vote. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the race after the ballots were prepared but nonetheless won 5.7 percent. Charles "Buddy" Roemer -- a former Louisiana governor -- earned less than 1 percent.

"Obviously the Romney people are going to be very happy, and the Ron Paul people are going to be somewhat happy, because they got something out of their efforts here," said state GOP Chairman Mark Zaccaria.

Voter Linda Fiske of North Smithfield cast her ballot for Paul. She said she likes Paul's libertarian views, even though she conceded there's little chance of him winning the GOP nomination.

"It's going to be Romney, and in November I'll vote the party line," she said. "In November I'll vote with my head, but today I cast my vote with my heart."

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