In a Machiavellian finish, Mitt Romney got froze out of 18 delegates at the WV GOP Convention this morning when John McCain, who had very little delegate support gave his delegates to Mike Huckabee and allowed the former Arkansas governor to best Mitt Romney.
After the first round, Romney had 41%, Huckabee 33% and McCain 12%. Ron Paul had between 10 and 11%.
Romney, Huckabee and Paul had addressed the 1100-1200 delegates before the first round voting.
Romney addressed delegates before the convention and the large room was Standing Room Only.
The Ron Paul Meet-the-Candidate room was also quite full with approximately 100-150 well-wishers, autograph-seekers and delegates meeting the Texas Congressman.
The McCain room is pictured below.
It was after the first round that the back-room horse-trading began.
With no chance for victory, McCain joined forces with Huckabee and with a few uncommitted delegates committing, victory was snatched from Romney who easily had the largest single amount of delegates at the convention.
Huckabee picked up 18 delegates at the convention, held in the state capital of Charleston. The remaining 12 delegates will be awarded to the winner of the WV GOP primary on May 5.
The coffee was hot, however.
McCain was not present at the event, the only GOP presidential hopeful who did not show.
However, a McCain operative was snagged for an assessment, before the voting of how the Arizona Senator would do.
Bystander: How do you think McCain will do?
McCain Op: Great!
Bystander: No, really?
McCain Op: Great! I really think great!
Bystander (looking around the empty McCain room): No, I mean seriously. Just between you and me.
McCain Op: No, really. There's a lot of uncommitted delegates here and we've been very successful at consolidating uncommitted delegates in the last 48 hours.
The McCain campaign did do great.
If "great" is defined by hitting the 12% mark, and then bailing.
Of course, McCain's campaign kept the man who is becoming the Arizona Senator's chief rival from landing 18 delegates, so that must be considered a success.
The 18 delegates would have sent Romney into the GOP lead going into this evening's Super Tuesday wrap-up.
Convention delegates now stand at 97 for McCain, 92 for Romney, Huckabee now has 50, and Ron Paul 8.
Huckabee bested Mitt Romney, who entered the Mountain State event with the largest bloc of pledged convention-goers. Both men and Ron Paul made in-person appeals to the more than 1,100 convention delegates attending Tuesday's convention.
But the former Arkansas governor beat his Massachusetts counterpart after delegates for John McCain defected to his side.
The first round of voting at the state convention produced no winner, but eliminated Paul after his fourth-place finish.
The WV convention was the first Super Tuesday event to finish.
Ron Paul and Mitt Romney easily had the loudest delegations the event.
Both men spoke to the convention in an appeal for delegates, along with Huckabee.
So Mike Huckabee became Mike Luckabee.
About the McCain switcheroo, one delegate at the convention observed, "He doesn't believe in anything. Except maybe, John McCain. He's nothing but a politician."
More reports later will be filed later in the day.
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* WV GOP Convention to Feature Ten Republican Candidates
* Huckabee wins WV GOP
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