-- Ron Paul has become a footnote in the Republican presidential primary after failing to win first place in any state nominating contest and significantly trailing Mitt Romney in the the overall delegate count.
But the Texas congressman still keeps racking up delegates across the country.
In Maine, Paul supporters won election to 21 of 24 delegate seats at this weekend's convention after Romney edged out Paul at the state's nonbinding caucus Feb. 11. Paul also gained 22 of 25 delegates at Nevada's Republican convention this weekend following Romney's strong caucus win there on Feb. 4.
But before Paul supporters get too excited, remember that these "wins" don't necessarily move Paul any closer to overtaking Romney.
Paul has been running a significant delegate deficit overall, and this weekend's results don't change that: Paul has support from only 94 delegates compared to Romney's 856, and Romney's number doesn't include voting at-will party leaders, according to the Associated Press' updated tally Monday.
This means Romney is still within striking distance of the 1,144 delegates necessary to win the nomination outright, while that goal remains far out of reach for Paul.
But as we've previously reported, Paul's strategy is entirely based on winning enough delegates to significantly influence the convention vote (even if his campaign is still publicly touting a potential win outright.) This approach aims to accomplish one of the following: forcing Romney to make a deal with Paul, having Paul delegates contest the results at the convention, simply challenging the process to make a statement and influence the party platform, or any combination of the above.
After this weekend, it appears Paul will be able to do that in Maine where Paul now has 21 delegates compared to 1 for Romney, according to the Associated Press. (Remember that Maine's Feb. 11 caucus was nonbinding.)
The scenario is different in Nevada, where the state's Feb. 4 contest was binding. Some Paul delegates told the Associated Press this weekend they will adhere to party rules and support Romney this summer despite the convention's outcome.
In the end, Paul isn't closer to winning the nomination after this weekend.
But Paul is getting what he wants.
In several states, which now include Maine, Romney is unlikely to ignore or alienate Paul supporters ahead of this summer's convention because of their sheer delegate numbers.
This keeps Paul part of the process—just like he wanted.
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