CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Missouri countywide caucuses were a significantly more raucous affair than their Kansas counterparts just a week earlier.
The Associated Press reported that one caucus, in St. Charles County, disbanded Saturday without voting on delegates as tempers flared. Police were called to keep order.
The AP said recounts were common at other caucuses as the camps of rival candidates put forth competing slates of delegates to advance to congressional district caucuses April 21 and a state convention June 2. Delegates in the state are not bound to specific candidates until the convention.
The Daily Caller was on the scene Saturday at the Jasper County Caucus in Carthage, Mo., just a few miles from Joplin. The affair there was far more subdued: The only real disagreements that arose concerned technicalities in caucus rules.
Supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul caused a stir by insisting that each rule had to be ratified individually. But, with the help of a citizen who had memorized Robert’s Rules of Order, the entire package of rules was approved on a single vote.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum came out on top in Jasper County, as he did during the non-binding Missouri primary earlier this year. Santorum took 194 of the 359 votes cast.
Paul collected 82 votes, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 59, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received just 24 votes.
Colby Lankford spoke for Santorum in Carthage, saying that the fate of the nation was at stake.
“We have to have the perfect candidate,” he told the assembled Republicans. “And since Jesus is doing other things, I’m here to talk about Rick Santorum.”
Lankford said Santorum is an unapologetic social conservative, adding that the former senator understands the United States needs manufacturing jobs to return.
“That’s why he’s proposed a zero-percent tax on manufacturing companies,” Lankford said.
Former Missouri State Sen. Gary Nodler spoke for Romney. He held up a flyer distributed by the Santorum camp and noted that Santorum had voted for Medicare part D while in Washington. All four candidates, he said ruefully, had voted for health care mandates.
Nodler added that, while the Santorum flyer criticized Romney for supporting “cap and trade” energy legislation, “[Romney and Santorum] both supported cap and trade, and the fact is they were both wrong.”
He also addressed accusations of flip-flopping, which critics have leveled at both the major contenders — and at Romney in particular.
“Romney has been accused of being a flip-flopper. The fact is, in 40 years he’s never changed a position to the left,” Nodler said. “He’s always gone right, just like another former pro-choice, union president, [a] liberal democrat named Ronald Reagan.”
Nodler told TheDC after the voting that he was impressed with the turnout.
“I think it was a large turnout, I think a historic level,” he said. “There’s tremendous enthusiasm for change.”
Nodler said he believes Romney’s nomination is inevitable, noting that Romney needs to win just over half of the remaining delegates to reach the 1,114 needed to secure the nomination. Santorum would need approximately 67 percent.
He declined, however, to predict the outcome of the November elections, even if Romney should win the nomination.
“It’s too early to tell,” Nodler said. “Who knows what the issues are going to be in October? … If the trends in place today are in place in October it will be difficult for the president to be re-elected.”
Like at other caucus sites around the state, Republicans in Jasper County ratified several proposed platform planks to be sent to the state and national conventions.
The caucus called for a special prosecutor to investigate the Operation Fast and Furious debacle, urged support for Taiwan and Israel and demanded reform of insider training laws so that they apply to congress. They also endorsed adult stem-cell research.
Resolutions endorsing the Patriot Act and the legalization of medical marijuana both failed.
Santorum was the only candidate to campaign in Missouri this week. Romney spent the day in Puerto Rico, where a primary election will be held Sunday.