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Live: Missouri Republican Caucus, Ron Paul Winning, Fighting For VP Spot?

Live Updates For the Missouri Caucus: Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney Battle For Delegates:

Saturday: 6:45 p.m. Contention and Confusion Marred Mizz Caucus: According to the Associated Press various Republican caucuses in Missouri on Saturday, and one meeting was abruptly shut down, as impassioned supporters of SantorumRomney and Ron Paul battled for an edge in the state's complicated delegate selection process.

A caucus at a school near St. Louis where roughly 2,500 Republicans had gathered was adjourned before a vote could take place because it got so rowdy that extra police were summoned and two people were arrested for trespassing. Elsewhere, political tensions and divisions led to recounts not only on votes over which candidates should be supported, but even which people should preside over the caucuses.

"It looks like a chaotic day around Missouri," said former senator Jim Talent, a Romney campaign adviser who participated in one of the more politically divided caucuses in St. Louis County.

4:30 p.m. Campaign picture of the day. Rick Santorum enjoys a Guinness in MO in honor of St. Patrick's day. Via Michael Biundo.

Santorum

4:10 p.m. Ron Paul supporters charge serious voter fraud.

4:05 p.m. Duane Lester says his experience voting at the caucus was a "hot mess."

4:00 p.m. Neil King of the Wall Street Journal tweets:


3:40 p.m. Will There Even Be a Winner? Because there is no formal straw poll accompanying this weekend’s caucuses, NBC News -- as well as other news outlets -- will not declare any formal “winner” in the contest.

3:30 p.m. If Ron Paul wins the most delegates from today's caucus, it will be like Norfolk State beating Mizzou in the NCAAs.

2:15 p.m. Ron Paul Camp Confident of Solid Win in Missouri: As site Benzinga reports operatives within Ron Paul's Missouri campaign are confident of a strong showing, and strong caucus delegate haul. Paul's campaign is organized and enthusiastic, drawing supporters from all walks of life.

12 p.m. Santorum Looks to Win Big in Missouri: As the primary in the state has already taken place, many caucus delegates say they will be bound to the popular vote -- which Santorum won. As the New York Times reports Santorum was the only candidate to campaign in the state last month. He spent money on TV ads, while his rivals dismissed the primary as a beauty contest.

Romney leads Santorum in delegates nationwide 492 to 257, according to the latest count by The Associated Press. Santorum noted he was being outspent by Romney but said he can overcome that. 

"We don't have the money," Santorum said at the Missouri grocery store. "We have you, and I'll tell you what -- I'll take you over the money any day of the week."

Friday: Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has yet to win any of the debates and it is estimated by CBS news that he holds only 42 delegates, fewer than one-tenth of the delegates rival Mitt Romney has. It is likely that Paul recognizes his slim chances at winning the presidency this year. Paul, however, admits to another goal he aims for through the election process: pursuing an effort to advance the libertarian movement. 

In comparison to his presidential run four years ago, Paul has gained significant support. In 2008, he received 49,027 votes in Ohio. This year, he received 111,238 votes. In Michigan, he went from 54,434 votes in 2008 to 115,712 votes in 2012. Similarly, the votes he received in South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Georgia have heightened just as much this cycle. 

The popularity Paul has gained through his run for presidency may definitely come in handy for the other candidates. There is speculation that Paul’s campaign is considering backing down and supporting Romney, who Paul seems to support depite of their ideological differences. 

Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign chairman, said in response to the speculation, “It's something we'd like but it's not terribly important to us. We're looking potentially for Ron to be the vice presidential nominee ... we're not looking for easy concessions like a speaking slot."

Republican candidate Rick Santorum’s surging wins recently in Alabama and Mississippi primaries, as well as his Missouri primary win last month (52% over Romney's 25%), have made him the biggest threat for front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign argues, however, that the Missouri primary results are meaningless because no delegates were rewarded. 

Since Republican candidate Newt Gingrich doesn’t seem to be a factor, the battle for the Missouri caucus win should undoubtedly be between Romney and Santorum.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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