Ron Paul Loses North Dakota; the Campaign Presses On

Jason M. Volack
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Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, takes in the applause of the crowd as he address a crowd during the North Dakota caucus Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Fargo, N.D. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(Charlie Litchfield/Idaho Press-Tribune/AP Photo)

FARGO, N.D. - Presidential hopeful Ron Paul's hopes for his first win of the presidential season were dashed again tonight when North Dakota handed the libertarian leaning Texas congressman another loss.

The campaign was very optimistic about a win here, even abandoning the Super Tuesday caucus state of Idaho to campaign here Tuesday night.

He told a group of several hundred supporters earlier tonight at a caucus site in Fargo that he was going to win.

"This country is ready and raring," Paul said to thunderous applause.

Paul is sticking with his strategy of focusing on small caucus states and placed big bets on three Super Tuesday states: Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota.

Those three states have a total of 87 delegates at stake. Paul told CBS News' Bob Schieffer on Sunday that there is a "good chance we come out with a majority of delegates."

The Texas congressman visited Alaska over the weekend.

Paul is the only candidate who made a trip up there, while others sent delegates or held teleconferences.

According to the Washington Post, it's a toss up there. Sarah Palin has ambiguously endorsed Newt Gingrich there, but it remains to be seen how far it helps him.

Paul then went to Idaho, which offers 32 delegates. And although Romney, Santorum and Gingrich have campaigned in the state, only Ron Paul actually has a campaign office there.

Paul won second place in the 2008 Idaho GOP primary and he won a Jan. 6 straw poll of 399 Republicans, the Idaho Statesman reported.

Today was Paul's third visit to North Dakota in the primary season, following a February tour of the state and an event in Fargo last November.

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have also visited North Dakota, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has not.

Four years ago on Super Tuesday 2008, Romney easily won North Dakota's GOP caucuses, getting 36 percent of the vote in a five-candidate field. Although Paul was third, with 21 percent, he fared better in North Dakota than he did in almost all of the 20 other states that held Republican primaries or caucuses.

Matt Becker, a spokesman for the North Dakota GOP reportedly said that the demographics of North Dakota play to Paul's strengths and Paul's North Dakota operation has been the most extensive of any of the four GOP candidates.

Paul's state headquarters, tucked into a small Bismarck office across the street from the city's federal courthouse, has been running for almost four months.

More than $50,000 of the $152,000 in North Dakota contributions reported so far have gone to Paul's campaign, according to Federal Election Commission disclosure reports.

Although Paul admitted that his chances "are slim" of winning the GOP nomination, he shows no sign of slowing down.

In a statement released to this column Monday, Paul explains: "While other candidates are focused solely on the beauty contests to get the headlines, we're undertaking a comprehensive strategy that I am confident can lead to the nomination."

Paul is already planning campaign events in Kansas on Friday and Missouri on Saturday.