(AFP) – Mar 10, 2012
HAGATNA, Guam — Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney claimed victory in Saturday caucuses in Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, saying he secured support of all 18 delegates at stake in the US Pacific territories.
"The people of Guam have always stood bravely for America and the values we hold dear," Romney said in a statement. "I am honored to have won the Guam caucuses, an important milestone in my quest to restore America to the principles and practices that made us great."
All 251 delegates from the island's 19 villages backed Romney, who sent his son Matt to Guam and the nearby Northern Marianas to campaign on his behalf.
"I'm obviously thrilled that it's a unanimous decision," Matt Romney said.
Guam, which is to host 4,700 US Marines being transferred from Okinawa, sees the military build-up as an economic salvation, and Matt Romney noted his father was "very much in favor of having a strong military."
The Marines who took Guam in a bloody 1944 World War II battle reinstated the island as a "non-governing US territory," meaning its 180,000 population enjoys US citizenship but cannot vote in US presidential elections.
However, they can vote for the delegates sent to the party conventions and "our votes count especially in a close process of the presidential candidate nomination," said Guam Governor Edward Calvo.
Calvo, who will lead the nine delegates to the Republican National Convention in August, said it was important for the island to see "how much enthusiasm" the candidates have for Guam issues.
Romney also picked up all nine delegates in the western Pacific US territory of Northern Mariana Islands winning 740 of the 848 votes cast, with 53 votes for Rick Santorum, 28 for Ron Paul and 27 for Newt Gingrich.
"The Northern Mariana Islands may be far away from the mainland, but one of the great things about our democracy is that every voice has a chance to be heard in selecting a presidential candidate," Romney said in a statement.
"What they've said today is that they want to bring change to their beautiful islands by bringing change to our nation's capital."
Matt Romney represented his father at a luncheon in the Northern Marianas on Friday marking the first time a presidential campaign team has set foot on the commonwealth in the 34 years since it was formed.
"He sent his son out here to get to know us, to see our island, our culture. That's an honor for us, and we're very touched," said Diego Blanco, one of the delegates who will represent the Northern Marianas at the August convention.
Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved. More »