Huckabee wins West Virginia caucuses

February 5, 2008 12:03:35 PM PST
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee won 18 delegates here Tuesday as backers of rival John McCain threw him their support to prevent Mitt Romney from capturing the winner-take-all GOP state convention vote.

In first contest decided on Super Tuesday, Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, bested Romney on the second ballot with 51.5 percent of the 1,133 delegates attending the state GOP's first-ever presidential nominating convention. Romney was backed by 47.4 percent.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who poses the biggest threat nationally to front-runner McCain, had entered the event with the largest pledged bloc and attracted the largest vote - 41 percent - on the first ballot. Huckabee captured 33 percent on the first tally; McCain, 15 percent and Texas congressman Ron Paul, 10 percent.

Because no candidate had a majority, Paul, the last-place finisher, was eliminated for the second vote. The defection by McCain's delegates to Huckabee allowed him to prevail over Romney.

Romney, Huckabee and Paul made personal appeals to the convention before the vote.