Romney Wins at Home

Former Governor Mitt Romney says he'll take his battle for the nomination to the Republican National Convention.

In the Super Tuesday votes, Romney won two of the states he considers home: Utah and Masssachusetts voted for him on a night that put his rival John McCain a third of the way to the delegates he needs for the nomination.

Still, Romney held a celebration in Boston last night. WBUR's Fred Thys was there, and has this report.


FRED THYS: Mitt Romney sounded like a man trying to make the best of a bad night.

MITT ROMNEY: You know, Anne came to me tonight, and she said: 'You know, the one thing that's clear tonight is that nothing's clear,' but I think she's wrong. One thing that's clear is: this campaign's goin' on.

THYS: Over the last few days, Romney had tried to say the Republican race had come down to a two-man contest between him and John McCain, but by last night, it was clear that there are still three main Republican candidates. Romney said his campaign would continue to the Republican convention.

ROMNEY: I have to tell you there was a special feeling in my heart when I realized that the three places Ann and I have lived have all voted for us: Michigan, Massachusetts, and Utah.

THYS: The crowd at the Boston Convention Center brought their enthusiasm.

SOMEONE IN THE CROWD: We won North Dakota! Yay!

THYS: And Colorado, Minnesota, and Montana, too.
J.J. Donovan, from Medford, had never contributed to a candidate before.

J.J. DONOVAN: It's an exciting thing. His experience in the private practice is what makes this a viable candidate to bring to Washington.

THYS: Still, this did not have the feel of a victory party. Few lingered, even as Romney was still shaking hands, putting a good face on the night.

ROMNEY: I'm delighted. I am delighted.

THYS: Answering no more questions, Romney retreated to a room with his family. He had told the crowd he would probably be up late watching the results come in from California. Those, too, were disappointing. California, like much of the country, went John McCain's way.

Republican political consultant Charlie Manning has worked with Romney since he ran for governor.

CHARLIE MANNING: I think the media narrative for tonight was this was going to be the coronation of John McCain, and I don't think the voters are ready for the coronation of John McCain, at least in our party. So you've seen Huckabee do well in the South, where you would expect him to. You've seen Mitt do well in the Rocky Mountain states and I don't think they're going to be coronating anybody tonight.

THYS: And yet Romney had campaigned in the South hoping to become the conservative alternative to McCain, only to find Mike Huckabee claiming that mantle. By evening's end, it was clear that Romney had not been able to stop McCain's momentum.

Here in Massachusetts, Romney did do very well. He beat McCain with the help of voters such as Republican Kathy Walker, in Braintree.

KATHY WALKER: Mittie did a pretty good job running Massachusetts, so I always say go with the devil you know than the devil you don't know.

THYS: Still, McCain managed to take 17 of Massachusetts' Republican delegates, to Romney's 21.

Romney could take heart from the exit polls across the country, which show that he does have an advantage among the most conservative Republican voters. His campaign says he'll be able to capitalize on his conservative appeal in the states beyond Super Tuesday.

This program aired on February 6, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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