Romney wins Wyoming Republican caucus

CODY, Wyoming Sat Jan 5, 2008 6:11pm EST

1 of 2. U.S. Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a rally with supporters at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire, January 5, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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CODY, Wyoming (Reuters) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Wyoming Republican presidential caucus on Saturday, taking seven of the state's 12 delegates with nearly all precincts reporting, according to a state party official.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee won two delegates and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California won one, said Amy Larimer, executive director of the Wyoming Republican Party.

Larimer said two delegates remained undecided while officials counted all the votes. A final tally was expected later in the day.

The victory gives Romney supporters something to tout as the focus of the U.S. presidential election shifts to Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. Romney suffered a setback earlier this week in the Iowa caucuses where former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee soundly beat him.

In past election years, Wyoming has been largely ignored by many candidates because it has the lowest population of any U.S. state with roughly 520,000 residents, but this year state Republican leaders sought to attract attention by setting an early date for delegate voting.

Tom Sansonetti, a Republican organizer, said the move has paid off.

"Wyoming is getting a chance to elect the first delegates in the United States," he said, noting that Iowa actually chooses its national convention delegates in April, not with last week's caucuses.

Some candidates made brief appearances in Wyoming this past year, with Hunter being the last to visit in early December. Romney visited the state twice and opened a campaign office.

(Writing by Bob Tourtellotte, editing by Philip Barbara)

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