Arguments mar GOP caucuses

Mar 18, 2012

Missouri Republicans lined up to vote in local caucus elections as presidential hopefuls campaigned across the state.  But no delegates were handed out to specific candidates.

Missouri won’t give any of the state’s 52 delegates to a candidate until Congressional and state nominating conventions later this year.

But hundreds of voters, so many that some had to be turned away, still queued outside of this small arena in mid-Missouri’s Boone County Saturday. 

Shirley Griessiel said she was backing Rick Santorum, but was worried that Ron Paul—who also  had many supporters in line—would not help elect a Republican president.

“I also think that he’s trying to split the party just like we had it split in Clinton’s second term.  And it split the party and Clinton won a second term—which he should not have,” Griessiel said. 

Contention and confusion also marred various Republican caucuses as supporters of Santorum, Paul, and Mitt Romney battled for an edge in the state's complicated delegate selection process.

Caucuses in St. Charles Co. disbanded without voting on delegates as tempers flared over disagreements over rules and extra police were called.  Two supporters of Paul were arrested and later released on trespassing charges.  County caucus leaders said that Paul supporters filming the caucuses with cellphone cameras violated party rules.

Santorum previously won Missouri’s primary in February, but due to state rules that vote also amounted to a public opinion poll.